From the English one to the "new" Italian, this is what the coronavirus variants are

From the English one to the new Italian, this is what the coronavirus variants are

There are hundreds and hundreds of mutations, but the vaccine's effectiveness is not in doubt. This is what it is

(illustration: Getty Images) At the beginning of the pandemic we called it the Wuhan coronavirus, while today we have switched to expressions such as "English variant", which only a few days ago generated panic throughout Europe, and now also with an “Italian variant”, just discovered in Brescia and which would be very similar to the English one. But what exactly is meant by the coronavirus variant and why does it make little sense to associate it with a specific nation? And last but not least, why shouldn't we worry about the effectiveness of the anti-Covid vaccine?

Coronavirus mutations

Like many other rna viruses, the coronavirus mutates and will continue to do so. This has been underlined by several studies, according to which there is not a single basic strain of the coronavirus, but a myriad of more less relevant mutations, which are generated and spread. For example, research conducted by the Houston Methodist Hospital (in Texas) and published last November found that since the start of the pandemic, Sars-Cov-2 has accumulated hundreds of mutations. By analyzing its genome in over 5 thousand positive patients, in fact, the researchers noticed a good 285 points of difference compared to the initial coronavirus, the one that had spread in the Chinese city of Wuhan. As we told you, however, most of the mutations identified by the US research team are no longer dangerous, except for a single strain, D614G, which is more contagious, but no longer lethal.

The Italian variant

It is very similar to the English one and would circulate in our country from early August. This is the "Italian variant", just discovered in Brescia. To tell it in an interview with Adnkronos is Arnaldo Caruso, president of the Italian Society of Virology, according to whom it would be a variant prior to the one that emerged at the end of September in the United Kingdom. As the expert tells us, this variant has different mutation points of the spike protein, the key to access the virus to human cells. In particular, the variant has a mutation in position 501, a fundamental point in the interaction between the spike and the cellular receptor, and in position 493, a mutation that in this case makes the spike slightly different from the basic version, the one we know from ' the beginning of the pandemic.

Because it makes no sense to associate them with a nation

Chinese, English and now also Italian. A habit, that of associating the coronavirus and its variants with a specific nation, which does not make much sense. As we told you, for example, the English one has been present for several months now and if in the United Kingdom it has had the opportunity to become the dominant one, the most widespread among all the other variants (presumably due to its high contagiousness), it is not at all certain that it originated in this very nation. What matters, therefore, is that in the UK it has actually circulated more and has been identified, but it does not necessarily mean that it originated there, much less that it remained confined.

L effectiveness of anti-Covid vaccines

For now, for both the English and the Italian variant, there is no concern that the anti-Covid vaccine may not be effective. In fact, as experts say, the vaccine activates a response towards many areas of the spike protein. "Even if there were some antibodies not able to recognize a mutated area such as that in position 501 or 493, there would certainly be others able to bind to non-mutated portions of the protein", Caruso explains to Adnkronos. "Their bond would be sufficient to prevent the interaction between Spike and cell receptor, even if only for a sort of 'steric hindrance' that the antibodies would create on the surface of the virus. In a short time, however, we will have a certain answer to this question ”.

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