Saturday, October 16

Mutation of the virus “appears to facilitate transmission”

Vicente Soriano: "Probably between April and May in Spain a new strain was generated".

Vicente Soriano: “Probably between April and May in Spain a new strain was generated”.

The new variant of the coronavirus that causes covid-19 that has emerged in Spain “does not produce a more serious condition, nor does it compromise the efficacy of possible vaccines, although it seems to facilitate the transmission of the virus,” the disease specialist told Efe. Infectious and Clinical Genetics Vicente Soriano.

This has been detailed by Soriano, director of the Medical Center of the International University of La Rioja (UNIR), after the publication of results, that he understands are of “virological” interest, by a team of scientists from Switzerland and the Spanish consortium SeqCovid-Spain, led by the CSIC, who conclude that this new variant has spread across Europe in recent months from Spain.

Based on his professional experience in the field of infectious diseases, he has stated that this new variant of the coronavirus is “an interesting finding from a scientific point of view and reflects that SARS-CoV-2 is adapting to humans, after its jump from another species, which was its reservoir, probably bats. ”

The results published by this team of scientists allow “to trace the origin, over time, of variants of the virus, which have spread from China, and then to Europe and then to the United States”, explained Soriano, who has developed his professional activity for 25 years at the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, where he has led research in infectious diseases.

He believes that, “looking at genome sequences from more than 15,000 European patients, there is evidence that, at any given time, probably between April and May in Spain, a new strain was generated, with a mutation in amino acid 614 of the envelope protein S (spike) of SARS-CoV-2 “.

During the summer and from Spain, he continued, “this strain has spread throughout Europe and, now, it is the one that circulates predominantly in the second wave of covid-19”.

This is called the “founder effect” and reflects that it is transmitted with an advantage over the strains that circulated in the first wave, has specified.

For him, from a public health point of view, “the important thing is that this mutation does not have significance in terms of causing greater virulence or severity of the disease, nor does it compromise the efficacy of the vaccines that are being tested”, but Above all, it is a finding of scientific interest.

He has also reported that “the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, although it is an RNA virus, like HIV or hepatitis C virus, mutates little, since it has a unique enzyme that corrects errors during viral replication “.

This observation, he indicated, “allows us to have hope that we will have a vaccine.”

Vaccines for AIDS or hepatitis C have not been able to get so far, recalled Soriano, who is one of the national experts on hepatitis and HIV, whose publications from his research group – at the Carlos III Hospital – are among the first in the world classification of scientific impact on HIV / AIDS and Hepatitis.

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