Medical

Scientists call new virus mutation the ‘Alpha’ coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Scientists think they know why the U.K. variant is more infectious and contagious than all other mutations to date.

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They are now calling it the “Alpha” coronavirus. This is because it is the only strain that disables the body’s first line of immune defense against COVID-19. 

News 8 spoke with Dr. Christopher Doehring, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health. He explained how the “Alpha” strain evades parts of the immune system allowing it to multiply more rapidly than other strains.

“One of the signals in the immune system is called the interferon,” he said. “The interferon starts to help other parts of the immune system when the body recognizes an infection. This particular strain seems to have the ability to suppress the release of interferon during the first 12-24 hours after infection. This helps the virus replicate [inside the body] at a much higher rate than others.” 

It’s also considered the “Alpha,” Doehring says, because the strain has taken over the U.S. It makes up 70% of cases in Indiana.

This is just one more reason, he says, to get vaccinated. 

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