Findings shared in a pre-print research paper report the newly discovered super variant carries 34 mutations. The new super variant worryingly contains the E484K change, more commonly referred to as an “escape mutation” which allows the virus to evade antibodies, creating concern that the pandemic may be prolonged even further.
The strain was first discovered in three airplane travellers arriving in Angola from Tanzania in Mid-February. Both countries are on the UK’s red list of banned countries.
Dr William Haseltine, a former Havard professor, told The Sun Online that the super variant is cause for “considerable concern” due to the high number of mutations.
He added that the new mutation did not originate on the B1 strain which other new variants have been derived from.
Dr Haseltine said: “These mutations could increase the concentration of the virus in infected people, which may help prolong the infection and increase transmissibility.
“The Tanzanian variant demonstrates the enormous versatility of this virus.
“Originally, many expected this virus to be relatively stable but it is showing to us with this variant and others, that this is not actually the case.”
Tanzania’s “vacuum of information” has been hampering the monitoring of the potentially dangerous mutations according to Dr Haseltine.
The Tanzanian government has been accused of denialism as the country has not been properly documenting the virus, stating that the official count is only 509 national infections and 21 deaths.
By comparison, the Brazilian variant only has a total of 18 mutations with 10 mutations seen on the spike. The UK variant has a total of 17 mutations and eight on the spike.
Brazil has previously been dubbed as a “biological Fukushima” due to the uncontrolled spread of the virus, with the WHO stating that a global outbreak is “nowhere near finished”.