On the trail of the coronavirus: new mutation is a mystery


  • ofPamela Dörhöfer

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It is normal for the coronavirus to mutate. However, researchers cannot yet give a clear answer as to whether this will also be more dangerous.

  • The Coronavirus and efforts to contain it continue to dominate everyday life.
  • One discovered in the UK Mutation raises questions about the change in Virus on.
  • Researchers suspect that the mutated Corona-Variant could spread much faster.

Berlin – VUI-202012/01 – that’s the awkward name of the Virus-Variantthat causes fears in the people of Europe. VUI stands for “variant under investigation” for a “variant under investigation” of Sars-CoV-2who have favourited various Mutations of Virus includes and has been accelerating in since September Great Britain has spread, where it could now even be the most common circulating variant.

Virologist Christian Drosten on the mutation of the coronavirus: Many statements are based on estimates

According to initial findings, it could be more contagious than the one that has been circulating so far Coronaviren, probably up to 70 percent more infectious. Several European countries including Germany, have therefore stopped entry from the UK.

Are the worries justified? The Charité virologist Christian Drosten told Deutschlandfunk on Monday that he was “anything but worried”. There is still much that can be said about the new one Virus-Variant If it is written and said is not scientifically confirmed, the statements about the higher infectivity were not based on reliable knowledge, but on estimated values.

It is already known: VUI-202012/01 is not a single mutation in the Virusgenombut a number of Mutations. They all concern the spike protein.

Corona cases in total Recovered Deaths
Hessen: 122.638 91.819 2.200
Germany: 1,534,218 1.147.943 27.110
Worldwide: 77,307,971 43.570.827 1.701.085
Stand: 22.12.2020 Quelle: Johns Hopkins University

New variant of the coronavirus: virus mutations are not uncommon

This confers Sars-CoV-2 its spike optics and enables it to penetrate cells by attaching itself to receptors on their surface. One of these Mutations directly affects the binding site of the spike protein, which makes contact with the human ACE2 receptor.

Mutations come with viruses frequently before – especially in those whose genome consists of ribonucleic acid (RNA), as in Sars-CoV-2 the case is. This is because the single-stranded RNA is very prone to copying errors when it reproduces in the cells of its hosts. These are examples of frequently mutating pathogens Influenza-Virus or that HI-Virus. In comparison it is changing Sars-CoV-2 less common. Nevertheless, according to a report in “Spectrum of Science”, around 12,000 individuals had already been registered by September Mutations of Coronavirus cataloged. A large part of it probably remained without consequences for the infectiousness or danger of the Virus.

The coronavirus changes more slowly than the flu virus influenza.

© Science Photo Library/ imago

Coronavirus mutation: Researchers in Great Britain start investigations

So far has been a complex of three Mutations proved to be particularly assertive, he bears the name G-Variant. This variant appeared at the end of January and has dominated it since March Infection process in Europe, Canada, Share the USA and Australiawhere they the original Virus from Wuhan, China.

Whether the in Great Britain the discovered variant would be able to do something similar cannot yet be said. Researchers from the “New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group”, an advisory body to the British government, want to collect detailed epidemiological data in the affected regions this week and, in ongoing experiments with cell cultures and animals, clarify which properties they have Virus-Variant disposes.

Researchers on the mutation of the coronavirus: “Increase in transferability”

In a first report, however, they suspect that the Mutations to a “significant increase in transferability compared to others Sars-CoV-2 could lead ”. So they appreciate that R value could be increased by 0.39 to 0.93. The R value shows how many people an infected person infects on average.

The secured findings are still very sketchy, says Jörg Timm, head of the Institute for Virology at the University Hospital Düsseldorf. The fact that the variant turns into England spread but suggest more efficient transmission. However, that doesn’t mean this Virus also trigger a more serious illness. It is also unclear whether it can “pose a problem for the immune response”. Currently, most of the experts believe that the effectiveness of the vaccination is not affected.

Spread of the mutated coronavirus: Bad data situation in Germany

The new variant Great Britain is currently also in Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia has been proven in the cases out South Africa however, it is probably a different variant. In Germany was the british Variant not yet identified. Richard Neher, head of the research group Evolution of Viruses and Bacteria at the University of Basel, suspects, however, that she has already arrived here.

“The data situation in Germany is for reliable statements about the distribution of individual Sars-CoV-2-Varianten not enough, ”explains Jörg Timm. The necessary structures for a regular one were missing Virus Sequencing. Therefore, “we only have a very sketchy and distorted picture of Sars-CoV-2-Varianten and would probably only notice it very late when new variants circulate in Germany ”. (Pamela Dörhöfer)

Rubriklistenbild: © Science Photo Library/ imago

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