Fears Covid mutations will make vaccines useless as experts monitor new strains
Scientists are braced for an explosion in new strains of coronavirus – as the vaccination could force it to mutate into an even deadlier strain.
British scientists have had a cash injection worth millions of pounds to fund research into new strains of the killer bug that could be resistant to vaccines and treatments currently in production.
Viruses often mutate after the release of a vaccine, but the deadly potency of Covid-19 has left researchers concerned.
The Sun reports that it is believed that there are currently 4,000 new strains that could directly affect the UK.
Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the Covid-19 Genomics UK, said: "Once we start to use vaccines in the general population, that will put an evolutionary driver, a selection pressure, on viruses.
"Viruses are going to want to escape the effect of vaccines because that’s what evolution is about."
She explained that monitoring new strains was important as many of the vaccines target the same spike protein on the virus surface.
It's estimated there are now tens of thousands of mutations circulating globally since the virus first took hold last year.
While not all mutations thrive, Prof Peacock says that mutations that involve the spike protein in the genetic formula of coronavirus are most worrying.
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This needle-like part of the virus allows it to attack the human body – and it is this section that Pfizer and Moderna have used to make their successful vaccines.
A change to the spike could make vaccines less effective, or even totally useless.
In Denmark, a mutated strain of coronavirus has infected humans after spreading from mink kept at huge fur farms.
Politicians ruled to cull 15 million mink at more than 1,100 farms in a bid to stop it spreading further.
Six countries have now reported Covid outbreaks linked to mink farms after the mutant strain was discovered in Denmark.
The Netherlands, US, Spain, Sweden and Italy have also found coronavirus cases in minks, the World Health Organisation has confirmed.
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