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Scientists have identified a new type of SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is more contagious

Scientists have identified a new type of SARS-CoV-2 virus.  It is more contagious

T478K is the professional designation for the “Mexican variant” of SARS-CoV-2, which has just been described in the Journal of Medical Virology.

– This variant was increasingly widespread among the population of North America, especially Mexico. Currently, it represents more than 50 percent. Viruses in this area. The rate of expansion of the virus is similar to the so-called British variant – Business Coordinator Prof. Federico Giorgi.

As with other variants, it is characterized by a specific mutation in the spike protein. These mutations often help viruses better infect cells. The mutation in the spike protein is structurally located at the site of interaction with the human ACE2 receptor. The researcher explains that coronaviruses stick to this receptor to infect cells and spread more efficiently.

His team analyzed the genetic sequences of more than 1.2 million samples collected in international databases by April 27, 2021. The researchers found the new variant in 11,435 samples. This is double what it was in the previous month. Scientists describe this increase as worrying. The variant described was responsible for more than 50 percent. In Mexico, but, for example, 2.7 per cent. in the United States of America. It is also present, albeit in small numbers, in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.

According to the authors of the publication, the T478K variant affects men and women equally, as well as different age groups.

The researchers also performed a computer simulation of the behavior of the mutant spike protein. It turned out that the mutation affected the electrostatic charge of this protein. This changes not only the interaction with the ACE2 receptor, but also the interaction with the antibodies, which could make treatment of COVID-19 difficult.

“Thanks to the large amount of data collected in international studies, we can control the situation almost continuously by monitoring the spread of different variants of the virus in different regions,” concludes Dr. Giorgi. Continuing to make this effort over the next few months will be crucial to taking prompt and effective action, he adds.

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