New SARS-CoV-2 Variant Discovered In Japan Nearly Identical To Dangerous Brazilian Variant

As the scientific community becomes keenly aware of the dangers SARS-CoV-2 variants present, increased sequencing efforts seek to uncover new mutants before they begin to spread widely in the population. Among the new variants discovered in recent weeks is the Japanese variant (B.1.1.248) identified both through spread in the community and in their Covid-19 isolation facility. This viral mutant is nearly identical to the Brazilian (P.1) variant and carries similar mutations to the infamous United Kingdom (B.1.1.7) and South Africa (B.1.351), but also has one mutation unique to its structure, further complicating the Covid-19 puzzle for Japan and the world.

In early January, The National Institue of Infectious Diseases in Japan detected a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 in travelers arriving from Brazil a few days earlier. The new variant carried identical mutations to the spike protein as P.1, aside from one additional point mutation—V1176F. Notably, B.1.1.248 carries the N501Y mutation, which is documented to increase the virus’s transmissibility, and E484K, which increases the virus’s resistance to neutralizing antibodies. Mutations to other proteins were not included in the published literature.

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© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.