The new strain of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has the ability to deceive PCR tests, according to Amjad Al-Khouly, an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization (WHO).
In televised statements on Sunday evening, Al-Khouly highlighted warnings by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the virus’ ability to disguise itself.
He said that viruses are very smart creatures, and that mutation and evolution are a part of their composition. This includes all viruses, rather than just the coronavirus family, with mutations varying from one virus to another.
“The COVID-19 virus is a virus with little mutation, despite the current news on new variants,” Al-Khouly said, “What is happening now could be described as new characteristics and patterns of the virus.”
Regarding the new strain of the virus discovered in the UK, Al-Khouly noted that the mutation has infected a specific protein that some PCR reagents were dependent on it. When a change occurred in the protein, some reagents became unable to detect the virus.
It was the UK which first highlighted the new COVID-19 variant in December 2020. Scientists labelled the newly identified strain as “B 1.1.7”.
Al-Khouly said that the UK mutation had a negative impact on the speed of the coronavirus’ spread, behaviour which has also been found elsewhere.