SciShow asks, “What’s Up With Those COVID-19 Variants?” (January 12).
In six minutes, the short covers the B1.1.7 variant (UK) and B.1.351 (South Africa).
The variants have spike protein changes, making them attach to ACE2 receptors more easily, and another change that may make it harder for the immune system to recognize that a cell is infected.
The UK mutation may have occurred in a single patient who was ill a long time.
People with these variations seem to have several times the viral loads in their nasal passages.
An increase in transmissibility will increase the death rate downstream a few weeks later because of more cases. The sudden explosion of the UK variant in early December 2020 has led to a new strict lockdown.
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