A new strain of the coronavirus, which originated in Japan, has been found at a Kentucky nursing home, infecting 45 residents and healthcare workers, many of whom were already vaccinated.
Former Harvard Medical School professor William Haseltine wrote in Forbes Monday that the new variant is called R.1, originated in Japan, and has improved “transmission, replication, and immune suppression,” characteristics.
R.1 variant has infected over 10,000 people around the world since it was initially documented. The variant shares the highly infectious D614G mutation, also found in other dangerous variants such as the Delta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma variants.
“R.1 is a variant to watch. It has established a foothold in both Japan and the United States,” Haseltine wrote.
“In addition to several mutations notably in the spike and nucleocapsid protein in common with variants of concern, R.1 has a set of unique mutations that may confer an additional advantage in transmission, replication, and immune suppression.”
Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, chairman of the nonprofit health advocacy organization Health Watch USA, told the Courier-Journal that vaccination would not be a cure-all for warding off the disease when more varieties develop and spread. The delta version, which has now infected people all over the United States, is an example of a fast-spreading variant, as Western Journal reported.
White House adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci indicated last week that the possibility of a “monster variant” exists. “There’s always a risk of, as you get more circulation of the virus in the community, that you’ll get enough accumulation of new mutations to get a variant substantially different than the ones we’re seeing now.”
He’s advising people to get vaccinated to prevent both the next mutant and variant from coming.
However, he admitted that new variants could be immune to vaccines.
“Then it would in many respects negate some of the very positive protection that you get from the vaccines,” Fauci added.
Kentucky has reported about 661,580 cases and 8,339 Covid-19-related deaths since the outbreak began in early 2020. During a press conference on Monday, Governor Andy Beshear announced that the state had its greatest number of cases in Aug. 2021.