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He killed himself: the coronavirus in Japan mutated to the level of self-destruction

While the whole world is struggling with the surge in COVID-19 diseases, the pandemic in Japan is slowly fading away. What happened, the publication found out DW.

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A few weeks ago, in Japan, the number of infected with the delta variant peaked at 26 cases per day, and now there are only 000. And most importantly, now in the Land of the Rising Sun people do not die from COVID-200.

Given that Japan is an island state, the spread of the virus there has its own specific characteristics. The country is isolated, the proportion of vaccinated is 75,7% of the total population, wearing a protective mask and keeping distance are very similar to the traditions of Japanese society and do not cause any protest.

Delta variant destroyed itself

But even so, the delta variant has spread widely in Japan and completely supplanted the previous mutation of the coronavirus. That is why the fact that the fifth wave faded so quickly is very surprising. And the reason for this, the group of Japanese researchers is convinced, is that the delta variant destroyed itself.

In order to reproduce, viruses transmit their genetic information to the host cell. With every reproduction, a small copy error appears. Each of these errors changes the genetic code of the virus, it mutates, and this happens quickly. Every month, on average, two mutations of the virus appear.

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According to a study by Japanese professor Ituro Inoue from the National Institute of Genetics at Niigata University, during the process of reproduction, the delta variant of coronavirus developed too many mutations that accumulated in the unstructured protein nsp14.

And this protein determines the ability of the virus to correct mutations. But since nsp14 itself "broke", it could not fix anything; errors that occurred during copying began to multiply uncontrollably, and this led to the self-destruction of the delta variant.

Compared to Europeans and Africans, Asians are more likely to possess a protective enzyme called APOBEC3A, which targets RNA viruses, including the SARS CoV-2 virus. Researchers at the National Institute of Genetics at Niigata University studied how APOBEC3A protein affects the nsp14 protein and whether it can suppress the activity of the coronavirus.

Japanese scientists believe that the delta variant could lead to a large number of mutations. But the opposite happened.

“We were literally shocked when we saw the result,” Professor Ituro Inoue told The Japan Times. - The virus containing the error is not able to reproduce its copies. Bearing in mind the fact that the number of patients has not increased, we proceed from the assumption that a mutation of the virus at some point led it to natural extinction. "

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Why the delta variant disappeared so quickly in Japan

Such a theory may well explain why the delta variant of the coronavirus disappeared so quickly from Japan. In addition, it is now clear why the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2003 virus did not last long in 1. In experiments with the nsp14 protein of the then SARS virus, it became known that the virus could not reproduce itself, as its mutations accumulated.

But the fact that Japan is a special situation also plays a role, since in the island state only the delta variant was actually present and there was no mixing of the alpha and delta strains. Self-isolation of the population, high readiness for vaccination, adherence to social distance and wearing masks have led to the fact that the number of infections with the delta variant of the coronavirus in Japan has declined. But in other countries, according to scientists, the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 will not destroy itself.

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