The latest Melbourne outbreak is believed to have begun when a traveller infected with the Kappa variant (B16171) returned to Australia.
“We’ve got to run this thing to ground otherwise people will die,” Victoria’s acting state Premier James Merlino said, adding they were dealing with a virus variant “quicker and more contagious than we have ever seen before”.
Thousands of close contacts have been identified and the list of venues visited by the 60 confirmed cases has grown to about 350.
“The spike (S) glycoprotein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that emerged in 2019 contained a suboptimal furin cleavage site at the S1/S2 junction with the sequence 681 PRRAR/S 686. This cleavage site is required for efficient airway replication, transmission, and pathogenicity of the virus. …P681R significantly enhanced the ability of furin to cleave the peptide confirming that the arginine substitution is responsible for the enhanced cleavage of the B.1.617 S protein.
We speculate that enhanced S1/S2 cleavage seen in B.1.617 and B.1.1.7 [Alpha variant] (which contains P681H) may be contributing to the enhanced transmissibility of these SARS-CoV-2 variants.”
The WHO have announced new names for the confusingly named sars-cov-2 variants. The new names are based on the Greek alphabet.
Variants of Concern = Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta
Variants of Interest = Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa
WHO introduces new naming system for Sars-CoV-2 variants based on Greek alphabet – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa etc