2021-02-16 by W.M.
B.C. officials detect first Canadian case of fourth COVID-19 variant sweeping the world
The variant, named B1525 was first detected in Nigeria but has since surfaced in the U.K., Denmark and nine other countries
A fourth COVID-19 variant may have arrived in Canada and experts say it comes with a concerning set of mutations that could circumvent the vaccine.
B.C. health officer Bonnie Henry announced on Friday, February 12, that the province is investigating a confirmed case of the variant, named B1525, in a young individual who had recently travelled from Nigeria.
If confirmed, this would mark the first case of the B1525 variant in Canada.
Nigerian health officials first detected the variant in mid-December and identified it as different from the U.K. and South African variants.
The virus has since spread to 11 countries, including the U.K., Denmark, U.S., Belgium, Jordan, Ghana and Australia, according to data published by researchers at the University of Edinburgh.
Demark has recorded 35 cases of the variant, while the U.S. has confirmed 10 cases so far. The U.K. has reported 33 cases of the variant, although researchers say there could be much more.
The variant, researchers state, is similar to its South African and Brazil counterparts, in that it contains the E484K mutation to the spike protein — a protein located on the virus’ surface that helps it penetrate host cells.
The variant also carries a Q677H mutation on its spike protein which could strength its resistance to the vaccine.
It also shares similarities with the Kent variant, which has shown to be up to 70 per cent more infectious and deadlier than the original COVID-19 strain.
It isn’t clear whether the variant is more infective than the original strain or causes more severe symptoms.
Scientists worry that the B1525 mutation could help the variant evade the neutralizing antibodies created of a vaccine.
Henry added that there isn’t any evidence of the variant transmission and the individual is currently in isolation in British Columbia.