UK, COG-UK discovers 17 mutations of COVID-19 in London and the South East

COG-UK, a UK government consortium, at the centre of interesting observations on the pandemic in the UK. COVID-19 mutations are described as ‘impressive’ by the UK COG-UK scientists who discovered 17 mutations of the Spike protein in the area they examined, London and the South East of England.

Many of the alterations occurred on the virus’ Spike protein, which it uses to latch onto human cells and cause disease.

Many of the changes have occurred on the virus’s spike protein, which it uses to latch onto human cells and cause illness.

Alterations to the spike are significant because most Covid vaccines in the works, including Pfizer/BioNTech’s approved jab, work by targeting this protein.

COVID-19 mutations discovered by scientists in the UK

The scientists have said there is ‘currently no evidence’ the mutation — which has been spotted in Wales, Scotland, Denmark and Australia — will have any impact on vaccines.

Professor Nick Loman, from the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham and COG-UK member, said: ‘There is actually 17 changes that would affect the protein structure in some way that distinguish this variant from its kind of common ancestor of other variants that are circulating, which is a lot.

Will there be consequences for the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK?

‘It’s striking. There’s a really long branch going back to the common ancestor, and it’s a matter of great interest as to why that is the case.”

Most Covid vaccines work by training the immune system to recognise the virus’s spike proteins and attack them when the virus tries to infect in future.

But if the shape of the spike proteins are altered through mutations, the virus may be able to slip by the body’s natural defences.

The new strain, called ‘VUI – 202012/01’, was first picked up in September in Kent and appears to be linked to an explosion of infections in London and the South East.

COG-UK said it was spreading spreading faster than the dominant strain, which was imported by holidaymakers from Spain in the summer and now accounts for the majority of infections.

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