Science & Technology

In the United States, there is Covid’s “Scariants” problem.Here’s how to fix this:

This sequencing boost helps scientists map the landscape of coronavirus mutations circulating throughout the country in more detail. So it’s not surprising that they are starting to bring even more surprises. However, as the pace of genomic data generation is accelerating, a similar collaborative promotion of what is called “variant characterization” has not yet taken place.

Sequencing helps identify mutations such as: May There’s a problem. However, it is unclear whether those mutations will cause that version of the virus to behave differently than other versions. To do this, we need to conduct research using antibodies, living human cells, and animal models. Each type of experiment or analysis requires a unique skill set, and there are different ways to measure the same. We also need immunologists, structural biologists, virologists, and many other professionals. And ideally, we want them all to comply with the same scientific standards. You can then compare one variant to the next to determine if the new strain is of public health concern or just interesting.

In the United States, the CDC is the leading authority with the authority to designate new strains as either “mutants of interest” or “mutants of interest.” Exceeding that threshold requires strong evidence that a particular group of mutations gives them the ability to do one of four things: faster, easier to spread, and more serious illness. , Decreases the effectiveness of Covid-19 treatment, or avoids antibodies produced from vaccination or is infected with an earlier version of the virus.

So far, the agency has Promote 3 new versions Classification of SARS-CoV-2 into the most worrisome categories: B.1.1.7, first detected in the United Kingdom, B.1.351 from South Africa, and P.1 from Brazil. (Although there is ongoing conflict Code naming system to useMost scientists agree to avoid the “insert place name here” nomenclature because of its inaccuracy and stigma effect. For simplicity, B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 are hereafter referred to as Big Three. )

However, the agency is currently tracking additional variants of interest, such as B.1.256 in New York and B.1427 / 429 in California, which evade the immune response and erode the protection provided by. We are monitoring ongoing studies to assess the capacity of the strains of California. Existing vaccine. As new data becomes available, agencies can hit this top layer with particularly worrisome variants. “In order to monitor potentially significant variants, the threshold for specifying variants of interest should be relatively low,” a CDC spokeswoman told WIRED in an email. “But in order to focus resources on the variants with the highest public health impact, we need to raise the threshold for specifying the variants of concern.”

A spokeswoman did not provide details on what the authorities consider to be “strong evidence,” but said the CDC was involved with international partners, including the World Health Organization, in discussing the criteria for variant designation. Stated.

In other words, it’s not just a matter of finding new variants, it’s a matter of characterizing their biological behavior. What does it mean for someone to infect each other? “Getting the sequence is just the beginning of the story,” says Topol. “There’s a lot more science that needs to happen to know if mutations make sense, and many labs now publishing about this are just looking at part of the story. It’s easy, but fast can also be misleading. “

For example number Of research Antibodies trained to attack older versions of the virus have been shown to be much more difficult to recognize for B.1.351 and P.1 variants in recent weeks. It raised a warning about the effectiveness of the vaccine. However, just because an antibody does not fight these new mutants in vitro does not mean that the immune system has the same problem in a real final boss fight. The immune system is more than an antibody, and far fewer laboratories have the expertise needed to test on live T cells. Covid-19 Other major players in the development of immunity.. These cells, which remove the virus by eliminating swarms of infected cells, are difficult to grow outside the human body. Therefore, it takes some time to understand how to respond to the variant. However, new data suggest that they respond well.

In the United States, there is Covid’s “Scariants” problem.Here’s how to fix this: In the United States, there is Covid’s “Scariants” problem.Here’s how to fix this:

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