Well, it’s not only COVID-19 that evolves into a much strong variant during this pandemic. Recently, Oxford researchers announced that a new super-mutant HIV strain has been detected in the Netherlands which is more aggressive in attacking the immune system more quickly than the current versions of the virus.
Science.org has published by the Dutch HIV Monitoring Foundation by Oxford University that there are around 109 individuals who were infected with this new variant called “VB variant” (for virulent subtype B).
According to the study, “We discovered a highly virulent variant of subtype-B HIV-1 in the Netherlands. One hundred nine individuals with this variant had a 0.54 to 0.74 log10 increase (i.e., a ~3.5-fold to 5.5-fold increase) in viral load compared with, and exhibited CD4 cell decline twice as fast as, 6604 individuals with other subtype-B strains.”
The first strain of HIV was deadly enough but this one is scarier.
France 24 reported:
Their analysis, published Thursday in the journal “Science,” showed that patients infected with what they call the “VB variant” had 3.5 to 5.5 times higher levels of the virus in their blood than those infected with other variants, as well as a more rapidly fading immune system.
However, the study also found that after starting treatment, individuals with the VB variant had similar immune system recovery and survival to individuals with other HIV variants.
“There’s no cause for alarm with this new viral variant,” said Oxford epidemiologist Chris Wymant, the lead author on the paper, in an interview with AFP.
“Our findings emphasize the importance of World Health Organization guidance that individuals at risk of acquiring HIV have access to regular testing to allow early diagnosis, followed by immediate treatment,” said co-author Christophe Fraser, also an Oxford researcher, in a press release announcing the findings.
The work also supports the theory that viruses can evolve to become more virulent, a widely-hypothesized idea for which few real-world examples have been found.
The Delta variant of the novel coronavirus was another recent example.
The discovery of the HIV variant should therefore “be a warning that we should never be overconfident about saying viruses will just evolve to become milder,” said Wymant to AFP.
Are we really ready for this one? Well, we aren’t when COVID came so this is another wave, people.
The first doses of an experimental HIV vaccine that uses Moderna’s mRNA technology have been given to participants in a phase 1 clinical trial, the company announced last week.
The trial is being conducted in partnership with the nonprofit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). Researchers are testing whether an mRNA-based vaccine that delivers the instructions for HIV-specific antigens can induce certain immune responses.
Just right after Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded the injectable Ivermectin.
These viruses are slowly creeping out of the human world but at least for this one, we don’t need a vaccine, safe sex certainly.