New virus variant
Why in news?
- The World Health Organization (WHO) will convene a meeting of members to discuss strategies to counter a new, more infectious coronavirus strain that emerged in Britain.
About the new variant
- The WHO cautioned against major alarm over the variant, saying it was a normal part of a pandemic’s evolution.
- The main worry is that the new variant is 40%-70% more transmissible.
Evolution of a virus
- Viruses undergo evolution and natural selection, just like cell-based life, and most of them evolve rapidly.
- When two viruses infect a cell at the same time, they may swap genetic material to make new, mixed viruses with unique properties. For example, flu strains can arise this way.
- RNA viruses have high mutation rates that allow especially fast evolution. An example is the evolution of drug resistance in HIV.
Why is this mutation a problem?
- Developed vaccines may get impotent.
- Chances of re-infection may rise.
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