Researcher warns of new omicron sub-strain

BJ.1 is a sub font of the current and widely used BA.2 font. However, she has an additional 14 mutations. “What is immediately clear is that many of the new mutations cluster densely in the receptor-binding domain and the anti-NTD antibody-binding ‘super-site’,” explains Elling.

This could mean that the virus can enter cells more easily, or at least behave more aggressively. It remains to be seen if BJ.1 is really a new subline, as the name suggests. Initially, the discoverers called it BA.2.10.1. Then one of the researchers involved in the scientific discussion about the significance of mutations, the Swiss researcher Cornelius Romer, decided on a new name. However, the World Health Organization has not yet used this term.

‘Immune escape highly possible’

According to the scientist, this mutation package makes another important immune escape very likely. Immune escape means that the viral genome has changed in such a way that it is better able to escape antibodies than those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered.

“One can only hope that there will be a significant cost to the virus in terms of infection.” This means that while it has the tools to better attack cells, it is less able to defend itself – and cannot compete with the currently dominant sublines. Elling advocates continuous monitoring of the new sub-line and continuous sequencing of samples.

“The mutation profile of this variant indicates clear immune escape properties. The growth advantage of BA.2.75 in an event dominated by BA.4/BA.5, as in Germany, is currently unrecognizable,” writes RKI. Additional notes will show to what extent this also applies to the new BJ.1 subline.

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