New strain could infect recovered Covid-19 persons, says Kashmir doctors' body

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Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Monday said people who have recovered from Covid-19 infection could be infected again with the new mutated strain.

“Those who have got Covid-19 could get sick again with the new variant,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan, in a statement. “A new mutated Covid strain has surfaced in United Kingdom and is spreading to other countries,” he said. “The new variant has multiple mutations in the spike protein of the virus and the most troubling is deletion mutation which makes it spread more easily.”

Quoting a new study published in the preprint server bioRxiv, Dr Hassan said that antibodies elicited by natural Covid-19 infection might not be able to neutralize emerging strains that display deletion mutations in their genetic sequence. “Researchers from South Korea found that a young woman infected with one strain of Covid-19 was, just weeks after recovering, was infected again with a different strain of the virus,” he said.

“The findings indicate that the patient’s immune response to the first strain did not protect her from the second strain and highlight how mutations could make controlling Covid-19 more difficult than first thought.”

Dr Hassan said the mutation in the new variant has resulted in an altered protein product which could evade the immune response elicited by earlier strain of the same virus. “The new strain could lead to resurgence of Covid-19 cases that could reignite the pandemic,” he said. “The mutated variant is the dominant strain in UK and is responsible for more than 60 percent of Covid-19 cases.”

“While we struggle to come to grips with the news of new strain of coronavirus being detected in UK, another variant of the virus, potentially more infectious has emerged in South Africa,” said Dr Hassan. “Kashmir being the favourite tourist destination, the mutants can come to us anytime. We have to be prepared and alert – we need to gear up our hospitals to prevent an outbreak,” he said.