The latest statistics show that R.1, the strain of SARS-CoV-2 that scientists fear could be more infectious than other variants and reduce the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine, appeared in 35 countries in the world.
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According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mutations found in the R.1 strain can make it easier for pathogens to spread, as well as increase resistance to antibodies in fully vaccinated people.
This new variant was first discovered in January 2020 in Japan. To date, variant R.1 has been detected in 35 countries and 2 territories of the US.
As of September 22, 10,567 cases of R.1-related illness have been detected around the world, according to Outbreak.info and virus data sharing platform GISAD. The US and Japan are the two countries that have recorded the most cases of R.1-related diseases, 2,259 and 7,519 respectively. In the US, this strain has appeared in 47 states.
The number of more than 10,000 cases is very small compared to the number of cases caused by other strains, such as Delta, the SARS-CoV-2 strain that is currently dominating the world. However, experts still warn R.1 should be closely monitored, citing the risk it may pose.
Former Harvard Medical School professor (USA) William A. Haseltine said that the mutations found in R.1 can make pathogens spread more easily, as well as “increase resistance to antibodies”.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), R.1 contains the W152L mutation in the spike protein. This mutation targets antibodies and can reduce their effectiveness.
The W152L mutation is also present in a small variant of the Delta variant detected in India. The R.1 variant contains a “triple” of mutations commonly detected in the previous variants including the C241U mutation, the P323L mutation in the NSP12 polymerase, and the D614G mutation. In particular, the D614G mutation can increase the ability of the virus to spread. Meanwhile, scientists do not know the impact of the other two types of mutations.
“Although vaccination has the potential to reduce infection and disease symptoms, 25.4% of elderly people in nursing homes and 7.1% of care workers still have the R.1 variant of COVID-19 after receiving treatment. vaccination. This confirms concerns about reduced immunity to the R1 variant,” the US CDC report said.
Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to monitor virus strains and classify them based on how quickly they spread. Earlier this week, strains of Eta, Iota and Kappa were downgraded from “variant of concern” to “variant to be watched” because they were weaker in transmission compared to other strains.