A Coronavirus variant that first emerged from Japan last year has been detected in more than 35 countries, including the US. The mutations found in the spike protein of this strain make it more infectious and highly immune to vaccines.
Known as R.1, three dangerous mutations have been detected in the strain; D614G, W152L, and E484K. While the D614G mutation makes this strain more infectious in comparison to other variants, the W152L and E484K mutations increase its ability to evade antibodies.
The E484K mutation has been found in Beta, Gamma, Eta, Iota, and Mu variants. The D614G mutation has been detected in Beta, Gamma, Delta, Lambda, and Mu variants. The W152L mutation has been found in a minor strain of the Delta variant.
According to details, the R.1 variant was present in the US as early as April this year and was responsible for an outbreak among fully vaccinated people in a nursing home in Kentucky in the same month.
A weekly April report by the US CDC shows that out of 83 residents and 116 healthcare workers of the nursing home, 26 residents and 20 workers tested positive for COVID-19 during the outbreak despite being fully vaccinated.
Genomic testing of the samples obtained from the residents and workers conducted by the Kentucky Health Department later found that the R.1 variant was behind the nursing home outbreak.
So far, the R.1 variant has been detected in 47 US states and accounts for nearly 3,000 cases. While it has been detected in more than 35 countries, the R.1 variant accounts for only 0.5% of the total Coronavirus cases around the world.
On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to monitor Coronavirus variants that have emerged across the world and classify them based on the rate of infections.
Earlier this week, the WHO downgraded Eta, Iota, and Kappa variants from ‘variants of concern’ to ‘variants under surveillance’ after their transmission was hampered by other strains.