- Tests revealed that the variation first appeared in the UK in late September in Kent.
- Since April, the coronavirus variant has become the most dominant variant in the United States.
- Research indicates that the ‘alpha’ variant hides from the immune system.
The highly contagious variant, now known as the ‘Alpha,’ was discovered in Britain and is now nearly the dominant coronavirus strain responsible for serious outbreaks in many areas of the world. However, the mechanism for growing so powerful in such a short period of time has left experts baffled.
A recent study suggests one key to its success: Alpha weakens our bodies’ first line of immune defense, allowing the variant more time to multiply.
About the Alpha – Kent variant/B117 ‣
The variant was initially known as the Kent variant due to its emergence in Kent, UK. Global health chiefs later went on to rename coronavirus variants in an effort to remove any stigma associated with the countries they are associated with.
At the end of October, the Alpha strain was responsible for barely 3% of infections in England. However, by the beginning of February, the share had risen to 96%, creating a third wave across the country. It also grew prevalent in the United States and this is due to the fact that the strain is far more contagious than the initial virus that originated in Wuhan.
According to data, the strain is 30 to 70% more dangerous than the original strain. However, it is not immune to natural infection or vaccinations. In a study, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccination was reported to be 70.4 percent effective against symptomatic Covid-19 caused by the variant while Pfizer is found to be 89.5 percent effective against the strain, at least 14 days after the second dose.
Disabling the immune system ‣
The Alpha strain is the only strain that disables the body’s first line of immune defense against COVID-19. The Alpha strain bypasses sections of the immune system, allowing it to grow faster than other strains. The interferon is one of the immune system’s signals.
When the body detects an infection, interferon begins to assist other sections of the immune system. This strain appears to be able to inhibit the production of interferon during the first 12-24 hours following infection. This allows the virus to multiply within the body at a considerably faster pace than it would otherwise.
The researchers looked at how the coronavirus reproduced inside infected cells to figure out how Alpha attained this invisibility. They discovered that Alpha-infected cells create a lot of additional copies of a gene called Orf9b — up to 80 times more than other variants of the virus.
A deeper understanding of the strain would help scientists design better vaccines for Covid-19. A number of experts are developing new vaccines by combining coronavirus proteins. However, they must proceed with caution since some of the proteins may actually suppress immunity.
Read more:➢ Bioweapons and biological warfare post COVID-19