COVID-19 mutation in the United Kingdom

Document Type : Letter to the Editor


1 Department of Science, School of Science and Technology, The Open University of Hong Kong, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong

2 School of Graduate Studies, Lingnan University, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong

3 Key Laboratory of Molecular Target and Clinical Pharmacology, State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Fifth Affiliated Hospital, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou 511436, China


On the 23rd of December in 2020, the United Kingdom discovered a new mutation strain from SARS-CoV-2 and known as VUI-202012/01. The viruses seem to be mutated all the time and their behavior and properties were changed relating to a lot of uncertainties including the effects of environmental and human-to-human interaction. What did we concern about this variant? That was the speed of its virus transmission for humans.
Based on a case confirmed in Northern Ireland that the rate of transmissible for this variant was higher than 70%. According to the modeling studied by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the ability to spread its virus could increase to 0.4 probability but there was no evidence to prove the new mutation strain would cause a higher mortality rate.
Rambaut et al. reported that a novel set of spike mutation strains in SARS-CoV-2 regarding the B.1.1.7 lineage accounts for an increasing proportion of cases in the United Kingdom. They identified the N501Y gene mutation within the receptor-binding domain (RBD). The spike deletion 69-70 del increased the binding affinity of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and changed the receptor-binding domain (RBD) associated with the human immune system. Would the vaccine still suitable for its mutation strain? (To be continued)...


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