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Three mutated strains of Covid-19 being watched closely, Thai official says
NationalFeb 16. 2021Dr Opass Putcharoen, chief of Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases Clinical Centre
By The Nation
Health officials are keeping a close watch for three mutated Covid-19 viruses, Dr Opass Putcharoen, chief of Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases Clinical Centre, said.
▪︎B.1.1.7 strain, which first spread in the UK before spreading to the United States and European countries. The mutation developed the virus to bind better to the human cell surface and multiply quicker. Thus, a lot of viruses will be found in the nasal cavity, leading to easier infection. It may also be associated with slightly greater morbidity and mortality than the regular virus strain.
▪︎Strain B.1.351, a mutant virus that has spread in Africa and South Africa. The mutated virus binds well to human cells and can avoid immunity from vaccination. This causes a significant decrease in the effectiveness of the vaccine.
▪︎Strain P.1, a mutant virus spread in Brazil, similar to the mutant virus in Africa.
Dr Opass said that the virus normally mutates all the time. When multiplying in the human body, there will be a gradual mutation. In the first wave of the pandemic, there was information that the virus was mutating every two months. Mutations have not been observed in the recent outbreak.
Meanwhile, the strains that spread in Thailand are still the ones that came from Myanmar.
However, if Thailand is unable to stop the transmission from human to human, this virus may potentially mutate into a local species in Thailand in the future. It may change the virus’s characteristics, so the best solution right now is to prevent the outbreak by wearing a mask, keeping social distancing, washing your hands frequently and getting vaccinated, he said.
The Thai health system has detected all strains from the United Kingdom, found in Thai people and foreigners travelling from the UK and the infected area. The Africa strain has been found in only one Thai man returning from Tanzania.