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We will answer your questions about the pandemic. Please send you to [email protected] and we will answer as much as possible. Publish your selection of answers online and ask experts some questions on The National and CBC News Network. To date, we have received over 67,000 emails from all over the country.

Why are we only hearing three variants of the UK, South Africa and Brazil when the COVID virus is constantly mutating?

The virus is constantly mutating. Many mutations are not important, according to virologists.

According to public health, what highlights the “variants of concern” of the coronavirus, such as those first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, is that they can spread more easily or cause more serious illness. It is either sex or the current vaccine may be less effective against them. Canadian agency.

Fiona Brinkman is co-leading the data analysis of Canada’s COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), which tracks coronavirus. Experts use the viral genomic sequences to detect new mutants and improve public health responses to those that pose a public health risk.

“We are beginning to identify certain mutations that are clearly of great benefit,” said Brinkman, a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at Simon Fraser University.

A common feature of the mutants of concern is that they carry an unusually large number of mutations than scientists would expect, Brinkman said.

More mutations are a sign to Check in more detail She said the virus now has new and unusual properties through computational analysis, laboratory experiments, and especially epidemiological studies of patients.

Why and how are variants more contagious?

Choi Colpitts, a molecular virologist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, said all three variants of concern have mutations. Spike protein It is on the surface of the virus and uses it to grab cells.

“They stick to cells more easily,” she said.

The variants of interest seem to spread more easily, quickly Than the coronavirus version that was prevalent in the early days of the pandemic.

Specifically, Brinkman said the three variants share one mutation in the peplomer. It’s like a flap that’s usually in a closed position. As a result, it cannot easily bind to our receptor.

Pedestrians wearing masks against the coronavirus will pass an advertisement from the British government on COVID-19 in London on February 2. One of the variants of concern is related to reinfection. (Alastair Grant / Associated Press)

“This mutation allows us to maintain this open confirmation,” Brinkman said, adding that the virus “spreads like a wildfire” because it makes it easier for humans to infect.

The first flagged B117 variant in the UK seems to be better infected than previous versions of the virus, so it can spread faster. There is also evidence that it causes more serious illness, according to Brinkman.

According to Colpitts, some mutants have mutations in the peaplomer, Interaction or grip Stronger Important receptors To our cells called ACE2.

According to Brinkman, the first B1351 mutant identified in South Africa also has “significant immune evasion mutations” that may more effectively evade the human immune system.

Charu Kaushic, a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said that when a virus initiates replication or copying in the presence of an immune response, the immune response wants to eliminate the virus. However, viruses also play a role.

“There is this push-and-pull between the immune response and the virus that the virus is about to change, the immune response cannot eliminate it, and the immune response changes to ensure that the virus is eliminated. “Masu,” said Kauchic.

In immune escape, the virus changes itself sufficiently that the immune response cannot completely eliminate or significantly disarmament the virus.

See | Scientists are monitoring the “first identified” variant in Canada.

A group of scientists are looking for a variant of the coronavirus in Canada. They tell Adrienne Arsenault what they found and why the variant of Canadian concern isn’t out of the question. 5:04

The P1 variant tracked by travelers from Brazil has another feature.

“Ultimately, people who may have been infected before will actually be more likely to get infected again,” Brinkman said.

Is it possible for the virus to mutate so that the same variant occurs separately in two different countries?

Colpitts, to some extent, said it was something we had already seen.

“The virus seems to be uniquely devising the same strategy in different parts of the world to better grasp the cell surface and make it more susceptible to cell infection,” she said.

Given the variants and how fast they are transmitted, should we change the way we interact with other people, apart from what we have already done against the “normal” coronavirus?

Dr. Issac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician at the University Health Network in Toronto, said the same rules apply to variants.

“We should still be practicing physical distance, we should be wearing masks, and we should avoid closed, crowded, confined environments,” Bogotti said on the CBC News Network. Said in. He is also a member of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force in Ontario.

In January, at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, an inspector wearing protective equipment is working on the genome sequencing of the virus that causes COVID-19 and its variants. Canadian researchers are also using viral genomic sequences to detect new mutants and improve their public health response to them. (Christophe Archambault / AFP / Getty)

“It’s pretty clear that with a more contagious variant, you can pick this up with shorter exposures,” he said. “But still, at the individual level, we don’t think we change much because physical distance, including better ventilation, masking, and a safer indoor environment are all protective. That’s the policy. That’s what we do from the perspective of. “

Colpitts reiterated his feelings, saying that the same public health measures should be effective against the variants.

“They haven’t found a new way to go through your mask or anything, so the same means stop the variant as well as the original strain.”

Brinkman suggested paying particular attention when you are close to others.

“Some people have suggested that we be a little more cautious and pay more attention to keeping their interactions very short.”

See | How to upload a mask game:

Dr. Samir Gupta, a Canadian pulmonologist, will explain the latest COVID-19 mask recommendations and demonstrate a simple hack to make you more effective. 2:38

How about taking the elevator?

Health officials in the Peel region of western Toronto have identified 200 atypical cases so far. This week, hundreds of condo residents in Mississauga, Ontario, were tested after five cases of B1351 were found.

As a hands-free precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at a shopping mall in Bangkok last May, people enter an elevator that uses foot pedals to select floors. Variations are a new reason to take precautions to avoid getting into crowded elevators. (Lillian Swan Rune / AFP / Getty Images)

Dr. Lawrence Law, Peel’s Health Officer, said B1351 Common area Of the apartment.

“Transmission may have been driven by the proximity of common elements such as corridors and elevators that operate in just minutes, rather than the traditional close contact interactions.”

According to Colpitts, this variant provides another reason to try to avoid the narrow areas of crowded elevators.

“Recently, I’ve avoided taking the elevator with others,” Colpitts said. “I use the elevator alone or just the stairs.”

Survey An incident in a South Korean office building in March last year suggested that people were exposed to the coronavirus in lobbies and elevators before the variant of concern began to take hold.

However, tips for getting on the elevator safely from the beginning of the pandemic are still valid, such as wearing a mask, staying away from others, staying away from others, touching as little as possible, and washing your hands often.

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