The US Has a Covid ‘Scariants’ Problem. Here’s How to Fix It

By promoting this sequencing, scientists get to know in detail the mutual scenario of coronaviruses roaming around the country. So it is not surprising that they are starting to turn more surprises. But as the pace of generating genomic data has accelerated, there has not yet been a uniform, concrete push as to “variant characterization”.

Sequencing can help you identify mutations courage To be problematic. But it cannot tell you whether those mutations treat that version of the virus differently than others. For that, you need to study with antibodies, living human cells and animal models. Each type of experiment or analysis requires a unique set of skills, and there are many different ways to measure the same things. You also need a whole bunch of immunologists, structural biologists, virologists, and other-psychologists. And, ideally, you want them all to follow the same scientific standards so that you can compare one version of the next and determine whether a new strain is from a public health point of view or just interesting

In the US, the CDC is the primary body with the authority to designate any emerging strains as “types of interest” or “types of concern”. Crossing that threshold requires strong evidence that a particular constellation of mutations has the ability to perform any one of four functions: spread faster and more easily, provoke more serious disease, Kovid – 19 weakens the effectiveness of the treatment, or during pre-infection with the older version of alloid antibodies or viruses resulting from vaccination.

Still has agency Upgraded three new versions In the most related category of SARS-CoV-2: B.1.1.7, which was first found in the UK, B.1.351 from South Africa and P.1 from Brazil. (Although there is a fight going on To use the code-naming system, Most scientists have agreed to clarify the naming “insert-place-name-here” for its impulse and stigma effect. For simplicity, we will refer to B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 as the big three here.)

But the agency is currently tracking additional variants of interest — including B.1.256 in California and B.1427 / 429 in California — and on-going studies to destroy these strains’ ability to evade and protect immune responses The current vaccine is being monitored. As new data becomes available, the agency may bump into any particularly worrying variants at this top level. A CDC spokesperson told via email that the threshold for designing a variety of interest to monitor potential variants should be relatively low. “However, the threshold for making one type of concern to focus resources on variants with the most public health implications should be higher.”

The spokesman did not provide details on what the agency considers “strong evidence”, but said the CDC has been involved in discussing the criteria for variant designation with international partners, including the World Health Organization.

In other words, it is not just a matter of discovering new variants, it is a matter of marking their biological behavior – what does it mean for someone to be infected with each other? “Getting sequenced is the beginning of the story,” says Topol. “There is a lot of science that needs to know if a mutation is worthwhile. And right now, a lot of labs published on it are just looking at a part of the story, because it’s a hurry. But one who is quick can also be misleading. “

for example, a number of study In recent weeks, it has been found that antibodies trained to attack earlier versions of the virus have a much harder time identifying the B.1351 and P-15 variants. That has raised alarm about vaccine effectiveness. But just because antibodies do not fight these new mutants as well as in a test tube does not mean that your immune system will have the same problems as in the real-world Final Boss Fight. The immune system exceeds antibodies, and very few laboratories have the expertise required to test with living T cells, Other key players in developing Kovid-19 immunity. These cells, which cleanse the virus by swarms of infected cells, are fine for growing outside the human body. So it takes some time to understand how they respond to the variants. But new data suggests that they respond well.