N501Y Mutation in Coronavirus

The recent infectious wave in the UK, prompting fresh lockdown measures, is associated with a mutant variant of the SARS CoV 2 called N501Y. According to the scientists, mutation of COVID-19 is neither unexpected nor a cause of panic.

What is mutation?

Mutation occurs due to changes in the genetic sequence of the virus, which in the case of SARS CoV 2, is the RNA. This happens due to mistakes that occur when the virus is replicating. Mutation is capable of changing the course of the disease only if it results in a significant change in the protein structure.

Impact of N501Y mutation

The new mutation called the N501Y identified in the United Kingdom has caused 1,100 new infections in more than sixty areas of the country. The mutation is a single nucleotide change in one portion of the spike protein. According to the scientists, due this mutation, there will be no bearing on the disease biology or diagnostics. However, as the mutation is on the spike protein that binds to the human protein, there might be changes in the initiation process of the disease.

Impact on Vaccine

There were several other mutations of COVID-19 in the past. For instance, there was H69/V70 deletion. However, N501Y mutation raises heavier concerns as it is related to the spike protein. The three major and leading vaccines, by Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford, train the immune system to attack the spike protein.

Other mutations of COVID-19

The D614G mutant of COVID-19 is capable of increasing the viral replication in human lung epithelial cells. Also, it increases the infectivity and stability of the virions in the primary airway tissues. A team of Genomic scientists from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology have recently identified seventy three COVID-19 strains.

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