Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Interesting article on how the virus might be mutating.

Normally I don't quote so much of an article, but I know most people don't click through. But this is a very interesting article on how immunocompromised individuals might be mutating and spreading a stronger version of the virus. Also read the official case study.

U.K. variant puts spotlight on immunocompromised patients’ role in the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In June, Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge, heard about a cancer patient who had come into a local hospital the month before with COVID-19 and was still shedding virus. The patient was being treated for a lymphoma that had relapsed and had been given rituximab, a drug that depletes antibody-producing B cells. That made it hard for him to shake the infection with SARS-CoV-2.

Gupta, who studies how resistance to HIV drugs arises, became interested in the case and helped treat the patient, who died in August, 101 days after his COVID-19 diagnosis, despite being given the antiviral drug remdesivir and two rounds of plasma from recovered patients, which contained antibodies against the virus. When Gupta studied genome sequences from the coronavirus that infected the patient, he discovered that SARS-CoV-2 had acquired several mutations that might have allowed it to elude the antibodies.

Now, his analysis, reported in a preprint on medRxiv earlier this month, has become a crucial puzzle piece for researchers trying to understand the importance of B.1.1.7, the new SARS-CoV-2 variant first found in the United Kingdom. That strain, which appears to spread faster than others, contains one of the mutations that Gupta found, and researchers believe B.1.1.7, too, may have originated in an immunocompromised patient who had a long-running infection. “It’s a perfectly logical and rational hypothesis,” says infectious disease scientist Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust.

Scientists are still trying to figure out the effects of the mutations in B.1.1.7, whose emergence led the U.K. government to tighten coronavirus control measures and other countries in Europe to impose U.K. travel bans. But the new variant, along with research by Gupta and others, has also drawn attention to the potential role in COVID-19 of people with weakened immune systems. If they provide the virus with an opportunity to evolve lineages that spread faster, are more pathogenic, or elude vaccines, these chronic infections are not just dangerous for the patients, but might have the potential to alter the course of the pandemic. "

1 comment:

  1. This actually makes common sense if you think about it a bit: immunocompromised people are clusters for genetic load and genetic mutation already, whereas people with fully functioning immune systems operate as a counterbalance.

    And so here we are in the 2020s with something that points to the same advice that was being proposed in the 1980s, except instead of AIDS and HIV, it's now The Rona.

    People with deep set eyes and Morton's toes probably don't have to worry as much.

    "Neanderthals and Homo erectus, both cousins of modern-day humans, went extinct due to sudden, and unexpectedly intense, bouts of c̶l̶i̶m̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶c̶h̶a̶n̶g̶e̶ genocide." ☠‍⃠