Friday 16 April 2021 2:25 am

New super Covid variant combination of 18 mutations, including Brazilian, British and SA strains

A new super variant of the Covid-19 virus in Brazil is a combination of 18 different mutations, including the so-called Brazil, British and South African strains.

According to local media reports, scientist in the South American country confirmed that the new strain, which was first discovered in the city of Belo Horizonte, contains multiple mutations that were already known.

“[It] has characteristics in common with the variants that were already circulating in Brazil but it also has new characteristics,” Renato Santana, a virologist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, reportedly told local daily newspaper G1.

“It is as if these variants were evolving,” Santana said, adding the new variant includes the same genes modified by Brazil’s Manaus, known as P1, British and South African variant.

Characterises of more deadly variants

While he stressed it is too early to say the new strain is more infectious or deadly, Santana did say the new strain has the characterises of those variants that are already associated with a higher risk of death.

Brazil has seen a rapid increase of Covid-19 infections in recent weeks, and Santana said the fast-growing number of severely ill people could be linked to the various mutations currently in circulation in Brazil and beyond.

He reportedly said that a relatively slow vaccine rollout “accelerates the appearance of new variants as the continued spread of the virus allows it to get “trained” to detect and bypass antibodies, as the immune system merely “looks out for the original strain,” Santana reportedly said.