Friday, June 18, 2021

How the Alpha 2019 Coronavirus Variant Became So Powerful - The New York Times

How the Alpha 2019 Coronavirus Variant Became So Powerful - The New York Times Gregory Towers, a virologist at the University College London, and his colleagues grew coronaviruses in human lung cells, comparing Alpha-infected cells with those infected with earlier variants of the coronavirus. Dig deeper into the moment. Special offer: Subscribe for $1 a week. They found that lung cells with Alpha made drastically less interferon, a protein that switches on a host of immune defenses. They also found that in the Alpha cells, the defensive genes normally switched on by interferon were quieter than in cells infected with other variants. Somehow, the immune system’s most important alarm bells were barely ringing in the presence of the Alpha variant. “It’s making itself more invisible,” Dr. Towers said.

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