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World

Worrying sign: New corona strain affects young people, has higher viral load, say researchers

  • The virus has been named as 501.V2 and transmits quickly than its predecessor, the COVID-19
  • Scientists are now seeing between 10 to 20 mutations that were not previously seen end of September
Published December 24, 2020
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(Karachi) A new more "severe" coronavirus strain has been detected in South Africa with experts claiming it spreads quicker than current types of the virus, a report published in Business Insider stated.

The discovery of the new variant was announced by South African government last week after analyzing genetic samples.

As per details, the virus has been named by scientists as 501.V2 and contains higher level of viral load. The new COVID variant is more worrisome as it tends to affect young people more seriously. Besides, researchers said the strain spreads quickly and is responsible for the South Africa's second wave.

It is also feared the strain may now be immune to certain antibodies triggered at the start of the pandemic. Viruses mutate over time, but usually at a slow rate of around two per month. But scientists are now seeing between 10 to 20 mutations that were not previously seen end of September.

Some of the mutations are likely to be irrelevant, but one, the N501Y mutation – found in the new South African lineage, as well as a recent new variant discovered in the UK – means the novel virus has a different spike protein.

Commenting on the strain, Dr Eric Feigl-Ding said: "New more worrisome South Africa strain: the new 501.V2 variant has troubling details as it seems to spread faster, has a higher viral load and possibly more severe among young adults."

The country's health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize has also stated it is unclear whether any current vaccine may have an effect on 501.V2.

With the new mutation having a higher viral load, it may be more contagious person to person.

Meanwhile, Moderna Inc has claimed that it expects that the immunity induced by its COVID-19 vaccine would be protective against the new coronavirus variant. The company said it plans to run tests to confirm the vaccine’s activity against any strain.

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