A Covid variant thought to be the most mutated version of the virus ever recorded has been found in a patient in Indonesia.
The morphed version of the Delta variant has 113 unique mutations and was swabbed from a patient in Jakarta.
Moreover, 37 of the mutations are thought to affect the spike protein. This is particularly concerning given vaccines are based on this part of the virus.
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The unnamed strain was logged with a global Covid genomics database at the start of this month, MailOnline reports.
It is believed to have spawned from a chronic infection, lasting longer than the typical infection. Chronic infections typically occur in patients with already-compromised immune systems. This creates the perfect conditions for the virus to mutate.
Luckily, there is no indication yet that the virus could take off and cause widespread problems.
Warwick University virologist Professor Lawrence Young said it isn't clear whether the new strain has the potential to infect others.
To become established it would also have to beat out other Covid variants like Omicron, he said. However, Prof Young insisted we must be wary of new strains emerging quietly.
He said: "This virus continues to surprise us and being complacent is dangerous.
"As the virus spreads and continues to mutate, it will inevitably result in serious infections in the most vulnerable and it will also increase those suffering the burden of the long-term consequences of infection."
University of Reading virologist Professor Ian Jones explained chronic infections have the potential to mutate the virus in a way that makes it able to infiltrate the immune system more easily.
However, he added: "Such mutations are often offset by a 'fitness cost' which means the virus generally doesn’t grow well and overall, the risk from such a virus is low."
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