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New 'horrific' COVID-19 variant reported

British virologists reported the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus containing a number of mutations that potentially make it more resistant to vaccines than any other genetic variant of SARS-CoV-2. According to Daily Mail, 32 mutations were found in the spike protein of the new strain B.1.1.529, and several of them at once make it difficult for antibodies to detect the pathogen.

To date, 10 cases have been reported when B.1.1.529 strain was detected when decoding coronavirus genomes from samples taken from patients.

It was first entered into the databases on November 11. Three cases were reported in Botswana, six — in South Africa, and one — in Hong Kong.

Dr. Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College, who was the person to identify its spread, described the variant’s combination of mutations as «horrific.»

Peacock warned that B.1.1.529 had the potential to be «worse than nearly anything else about,» including the dominant Delta strain.

Professor Francois Balloux, a geneticist at University College London, said the strain likely came from a lingering infection in a patient with a compromised immune system, possibly someone with undiagnosed AIDS.