A new study suggests the novel coronavirus variant originally discovered in the United Kingdom has been so successful because it can hurt your immune system.

  • “Alpha disables the first line of immune defense in our bodies, giving the variant more time to multiply,” according to The New York Times.

Why is the alpha variant so strong?

The study — which was published online and has not been published in a scientific journal — reviewed the 23 mutations of the alpha COVID-19 variant. Most of the mutations will bind to our cells, making the variants more impactful.

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But alpha does something different, according to the researchers, who grew coronavirus in human lung cells and compared the alpha-infected cells to them.

  • “They found that lung cells with alpha made drastically less interferon, a protein that switches on a host of immune defenses,” according to The New York Times. “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.”
  • To sum up, “the immune system’s most important alarm bells were barely ringing in the presence of the alpha variant,” according to The New York Times.
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Concerns over delta variant

More recently, experts have expressed concern about the delta variant, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom. In fact, the delta variant recently led to a surge in case in China, which led to a lockdown of the city of Guangzhou, according to The Daily Beast.

In a similar story, the delta variant has been running through Vietnam, a country that previously did not see heavy COVID-19 numbers, Global Times reports.

Experts said there needs to be a global effort to make sure variants don’t continue to spread across the world.