FAQ: What Do We Know About the T478K Variant Spreading in Mexico?

This variant is thought to be behind 50 percent of the COVID cases in Mexico.

2 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>New COVID-19 Variant discovered in Mexico could be as infectious as the Alpha variant say experts.</p></div>

A novel COVID-19 variant detected by researchers at the University of Bologna, Italy, is thought to be spreading rapidly in Mexico.

The study, published in the Journal of Medical Virology, has identified the COVID variant, T478K, as being responsible for over 50 percent of the COVID cases in Mexico.

The researchers of the study, who examined over a million genomic sequences, point to the rapid spread of this variant in North America since January 2021.

What do we know about this variant? FIT answers your FAQs.

What do we know about the mutation?

The mutation, like in the case of other variants, is located on the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein, in the region of interaction with human receptor ACE2.

It was detected in 11,435 distinct cases of the 1,180,571 SARS-CoV-2 samples they tested.

What do we know about the behaviour of this variant?

It has been noted that the T478K variant spreads fast. So much so that observing the rate and speed of the spread, the study researchers have also compared it to the Alpha variant, first identified in the UK.

"This variant has been increasingly spreading among people in North America, particularly in Mexico. To date, this variant covers more than 50% of the existing viruses in this area,” The Indian Express quoted Federico Giorgi, study coordinator and a professor at the Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology of the University of Bologna.

Which places has it been found in so far?

The variant is largely concentrated in North America, especially Mexico, and as of now it is responsible for 2.7 percent of the cases in the US.

Traces of it have also reportedly been found in several European countries—including Germany, and Sweden and Switzerland, and Italy where 4 cases have been reported so have.

Is it a variant of concern?

No, the T478K variant has not been declared as a variant of concern yet. According to the study researchers, this is because of the low number of total cases recorded so far.

It's important to note that viruses mutate all the time. Variants are declared as 'variants of concern' when there is real world evidence that there is an increase in transmissibility and there is a measurable reduction in neutralising antibodies.

Has it been detected in India?

No, no cases of the T478K variant have been detected in India yet.

(Written with inputs from the Indian Express)

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