The R.1 variant of the coronavirus infected many vaccinated individuals in the United States.
Officials and experts are closely monitoring the movements of the novel coronavirus. This comes as more new strains continue to emerge, like the R.1 variant, which made the headlines earlier this week.
It has yet to become a “Variant of Concern” or “Variant of Interest” under the World Health Organization’s list. But, many experts are already studying its nature, as well as its potential risks.
An outbreak in a Kentucky nursing home
The New York Post reported that the variant infected 45 residents and healthcare workers in a Kentucky nursing home. Many of these individuals are said to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Kentucky Department of Public Health revealed that an unvaccinated staff member triggered the infections. This reportedly began in March, and has since spread across the facility.
The R.1 variant was able to “bypass” the antibody protection obtained from the COVID-19 vaccines. As noted, it is because of its mutations, which experts have described as “unique.”
The variant’s many “unique mutations”
Writing for Forbes, infectious disease expert Dr. William Haseltine claimed that the R.1 variant has “dangerous” and unique mutations. He added that it also contains five mutations that are present in variants of concern or interest.
Owing to these characteristics, the variant is said to likely have the capability to improve “transmission, replication,” and even immune suppression. This is why the scientist warned that “R.1 is a variant to watch.”
Haseltine consequently explained that the strain shares a common origin with all VOIs and VOCs. He also emphasized that they all have the “Triad” or the three mutations: C241U, P323L, and D614G.
R.1 variant across the United States
Following the reports, centering on the Kentucky nursing home infections, details of the cases involving the R.1 strain have started to surface. As per Newsweek, the variant has now infected more than 10,567 individuals around the globe.
In the United States, experts and officials have detected the strain in 47 states. This is as of September 21, with notes that Maryland has the highest number of R.1 cases.
The publication continued that experts first detected the variant in Japan. It emerged in the United States in March 2020, and the latest in August of this year.
Globally, the R.1 variant of the novel coronavirus has spread over 31 countries. These reportedly include India, China, and several nations in the western part of Europe.
Images courtesy of New York Post/YouTube