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Covid UK: Boris Johnson warns of a new "super variety" from Brazil


All travel from Brazil is banned to stop the spread of a new strain of the virus.

It came after Boris Johnson was criticized for acting too slowly.

He admitted he was concerned about the mutated Brazilian variant, which the government had known about for at least four days, and feared it might be vaccine resistant.

Experts fear it is similar to the highly contagious tribes of Kent and South Africa last month.

Amid a dispute over the government's response, MPs accused the Prime Minister of failing to tighten the borders immediately.

MEPs also questioned why tomorrow's new rules requiring all travelers to test negative before entering the UK will be introduced ten months after the pandemic began. Other countries have had similar rules for months.

The Prime Minister announced that ministers were looking for ways to stop a variant of the variant found in Brazil – but dodged questions about whether Britain would introduce a travel ban

Speaking to MPs this afternoon, Mr Johnson said: “We are concerned about the new Brazilian variant.

“As you know, we have already taken strict measures to prevent new infections from abroad. We're taking steps to do so in response to the Brazilian variant. & # 39;

The SAGE subgroup NERVTAG discussed the topic yesterday.

Scientists working in the UK have not yet announced any coronavirus cases caused by the variant on UK soil, although it is likely already widespread in Brazil.

Brazil has already banned flights from the UK, so the new move would be a reciprocal one. In 2019 there were around 290,000 visits to the UK by people from Brazil. However, according to Skyscanner, there are currently no direct flights from Brazil to the UK.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport told MailOnline: “As the Prime Minister said, we are aware of this new variant and are considering urgent measures to reduce the spread to the UK.

"Arrivals from Brazil have to self-isolate for 10 days or face a fine of £ 500 or more."

It is normal for viruses to mutate, and early signs don't suggest any of the new variants of the coronavirus is more deadly than others, but in some places it is evolving to allow it to spread faster.

If the virus spreads faster it inevitably leads to more cases, which in turn leads to a higher number of deaths, even if the strain itself is not more dangerous.

The variant that originated in Kent, which is now estimated to be 56 percent more transmissible than its predecessor, has quickly become the dominant form of the virus in England, resulting in the country's longest and toughest lockdown since March 2020.

There is no evidence that vaccines against this variant are less effective. Pfizer, maker of the first approved prick, tested it on similar variants in the UK and South Africa and said it still works just as well.

All three mutant versions of the coronavirus found in the past few weeks - those from Kent, South Africa and Brazil - had an alteration in the virus' spike protein called N501Y, which scientists say is better able to attach to the body and spread

All three mutant versions of the coronavirus found in the past few weeks – those from Kent, South Africa and Brazil – had an alteration in the spike protein of the virus called N501Y, which scientists say is better able to attach to the body and spread

The mutated variant of the coronavirus was discovered last week in Japan in four people who had arrived on a flight from Brazil. It was first discovered in Brazil in October.

Scientists said it had similarities to the highly contagious varieties found in the UK and South Africa.

It has a genetic mutation called N501Y that changes the shape of the spike proteins on the outside of the virus.

This mutation allows the virus to bind better to the receptors in the body that it is targeting, which essentially means that it successfully overcomes the body's natural defenses more often.

Therefore, people exposed to the virus are more likely to become infected than if the other person were infected with an older, less contagious strain.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE BRAZIL VARIANT?

Surname: B.1.1.248 or P.1

Date: Discovered in Tokyo, Japan by four travelers arriving from Manaus, Brazil on January 2nd.

Is it in the uk? Public health officials and scientists randomly survey around 1 in 10 coronavirus cases in the UK and have not yet reported any B.1.1.248 cases, but this does not rule this out entirely.

Why should we care? The variant has the same spike protein mutation as the highly transmissible versions known as N501Y found in Kent and South Africa, which enables the spike to bind better to receptors in the body.

It has a third, less well-studied mutation called K417T, and the effects of that are still being researched.

What are the mutations doing?

The N501Y Mutation allows the spike protein to bind better to receptors in people's bodies, making the virus more contagious.

Exactly how much more contagious it is remains to be seen, but scientists estimate that the similar-looking variant is 56 percent more transmissible in the UK than its predecessor.

Even if the virus doesn't appear to be more dangerous, its ability to spread faster and cause more infections inevitably translates into a higher death rate.

Another key mutation in the variant is called E484K, is also on the spike protein and is available in the South African variant.

E484K may be linked to the ability to evade parts of the immune system called antibodies, researchers from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro said in a scientific article published online.

However, there are several immune cells and substances that are involved in destroying the coronavirus when it enters the body, so it may not make a difference in the way people become infected or recover.

Will our vaccines still protect us?

There is no reason to believe that Covid vaccines that have already been developed do not protect against the variant.

The most important and important change in this version of the virus is the N501Y mutation.

Pfizer, the company that made the first vaccine approved for public use in the UK, specifically tested its sting for viruses carrying this mutation in a laboratory after the variants emerged in the UK and South Africa.

They found that the vaccine worked just as well as other variants and could ignore the change.

And since the South African variant carries another of the major mutations of the Brazilian strain (E484K) and the Pfizer shock also worked against it, it is likely that the new mutation will not affect the vaccines.

The immunity developed by different types of vaccines is broadly similar. If one of them can act against it, so should the others.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a microbiologist at the University of Cambridge, said: "Vaccines are likely still effective as a control measure when coverage rates are high and transmission is limited as much as possible."

A World Health Organization report on the variant last week said: & # 39; The variant was identified when full genome sequencing was carried out on samples from 4 travelers from Brazil that were tested at the airport …

& # 39; We are working with Japanese and Brazilian authorities through our regional offices to assess the importance of these findings.

& # 39; We are also working with our Viral Evolution working group to evaluate the importance of this variant. If these and other variants identified in the past few months lead to changes in communicability, clinical presentation, or severity, or affect countermeasures, including diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. & # 39;

It added: 'The same comprehensive approach to controlling Covid-19 works against these variants.

"At the individual level, protective measures work for all identified variants: physical distancing, wearing a mask, good ventilation of the rooms, avoidance of crowds, cleaning hands and coughing in a bent elbow or tissue."

Speaking at the liaison committee meeting that afternoon, Boris Johnson said: “We are concerned about the new Brazilian variant.

“We have already taken strict measures to protect this country from new infections from abroad.

"We are taking steps to do this in relation to the Brazilian variant."

He added: "There are still many questions about this variant, for example we don't know any more than we know whether the South African variant is vaccine resistant."

It is too early in the discovery of the variant for politicians or scientists to be sure how the virus's changes will affect outbreaks.

Laboratory tests suggest that the N501Y mutation could improve transmittability – the British variant with the same change is estimated to be about 56 percent more infectious, but other changes to the virus can affect this as well.

Another key mutation in the variant called E484K, which is also on the spike protein, could be linked to the ability to evade parts of the immune system called antibodies, researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro said in a published scientific Articles online.

However, there are several immune cells and substances that are involved in destroying the coronavirus when it enters the body, so it may not make a difference in the way people become infected or recover.

There is no reason to believe that Covid vaccines that have already been developed do not protect against the variant.

The most important and important change to this version of the virus is the N501Y mutation, which has been linked to faster transmission.

Pfizer, the company that made the first vaccine approved for public use in the UK, specifically tested its sting for viruses carrying this mutation in a laboratory after the variants emerged in the UK and South Africa.

They found that the vaccine worked just as well as other variants and could ignore the change.

And since the South African variant carries another of the major mutations of the Brazilian strain (E484K) and the Pfizer shock also worked against it, it's likely that the new mutation won't affect the vaccines.

The immunity developed by different types of vaccines is broadly similar. If one of them can work against it, so should the others.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a microbiologist at the University of Cambridge, said: “The Brazilian variant has three key mutations in the spike receptor binding domain (RBD), which largely mirror some of the mutations we are concerned about in the South African variant Concern.

& # 39; SARS-CoV-2-RBD is one of the primary targets for our immune defenses, and so is the region vaccines target, and changes in that region are therefore of concern.

"Vaccines are likely still effective as a control measure when coverage rates are high and transmission is limited as much as possible."

The National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Japan said in its report that the people infected with the variant were found at the airport screening in Tokyo on Jan. 2.

They had traveled from Amazonas, a state in northern Brazil that is home to the city of Manaus, home to two million people, and the first place where the variant was found.

The Disease Institute (NIID) said: “Information on the variant isolate is limited to data on the viral genome sequence.

Further research is needed to assess the infectivity, pathogenicity and impact on laboratory diagnosis and the effectiveness of the vaccine of this variant strain.

This new variant (shown in light green) was first discovered in October in Brazil and accounted for a growing proportion of infections there in November

This new variant (shown in light green) was first discovered in October in Brazil and accounted for a growing proportion of infections there in November

"NIID recommends that individuals infected with the variant isolate be monitored in an isolated room and that an active epidemiological investigation be initiated, including contact tracing (with source investigation) and clinical follow-up."

Ministers and experts have said that the recurrence of new variants is a warning sign that the coronavirus is often evolving and that some of the developments are significantly changing how the virus works.

Although the variants already discovered do not appear to make the virus any more deadly or have the ability to get past a vaccine, the more different variants there are, the more likely it is than that one mutation is a disaster.

Professor Tulio de Oliveira, virologist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, told The Telegraph: “This variant is a wake-up call that we should try to really reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus). .

"It is clear that if you let the virus around it, it has the ability to outsmart us and improve the transmission and bypassing of the antibody response."

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