EXPERTS URGE CAUTION OVER 'ESCAPE MUTATIONS' FOUND IN CORONAVIRUS VARIANTS IN JAPAN

A series of coronavirus variants appearing to have an "escape mutation," which decreases the efficacy of immunity against the virus, have been found in and outside Japan.

According to Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), "a rampant spread of the mutation within the country can pose risks for controlling infections in the mid- and long term," but does not make the vaccine ineffective at the present stage.

This mutation differs from a new strain of the virus from Britain, which is said to be more transmissible than the original.

A mutation of a virus indicates a change in genetic information during the process of its multiplication. Although mutations are dependent on the scale of the virus' spread, in the case of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, it is believed to undergo mutation at a pace of around once every two weeks on average. Although it is rare for the characteristics of viruses to change greatly, there are cases where their properties alter when there is a change in amino acids constituting protein made from mutations.