Just as vaccines begin to raise hopes for a path out of this deadly pandemic, coronavirus has started mutating Britain officials have ringed an urgent alarm this past weekend about what they called a highly contagious new variant of Covid-19 circulating in England.
The UK has been under a strict lockdown since March. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense.”
Despite the vaccine introduced by Pfizer and BioNTech and to be first tested and distributed in the UK, the new variant and Coronavirus mutation is raising questions!
What is the concern of this new Coronavirus variant mutation?
Three of the major elements that are coming together and becoming an attraction for this variant, that it is rapidly replacing other versions of the virus. It has mutations that affect the part of the virus likely to be important. And some of those mutations have already been shown in the lab to increase the ability of the virus to infect human cells.
All of these come together and make the virus even more spreadable, more easily.
Though scientists are worried about these variants but not surprised by them. Researchers have gathered thousands of tiny modifications in the genetic material of the Coronavirus as it has spread across the world.
A similar version of the virus has emerged in South Africa, sharing one of the mutations seen in the British variant, according to scientists who detected it. That virus has been found in up to 90 percent of the samples whose genetic sequences have been analyzed in South Africa since mid-November.
Train stations in London filled with crowds of people hustling to leave the city as the restrictions went into effect. On Sunday, European countries began closing their borders to travelers from the United Kingdom, hoping to shut out the new redundancy of the pathogen.
How fast is it spreading?
The new variant was first detected in early September. Around November around a few cases emerged in London having the new variant. This reached nearly two-thirds of cases in mid-December. The variance came to dominance with the testing results in some centers. Milton Keynes Lighthouse Lab shared the graph in the relevance of the new variant spread in the country.
Numerous other mutations are circulating but are invisible to this PCR test. So genome sequencing of viral samples is very important. Reportedly there is a correlation between the new variant and increased infectivity, but that is not known to extend to more severe symptoms.
Protection from this newly emerged variant, within the disease, or indeed any other, is to carefully and completely observe all advices for the prevention of the infection which includes masks, distance, hand hygiene, bubbles, travel restrictions, etc. READ: PFIZER AND BIONTECH VACCINE FOR COVID19 APPROVED IN UK FOR USE!
How much has it spread?
It is still unknown how this variant emerged, it is thought that either a patient in the UK has it or it had imported from a country with lower monitory services to detect the virus let alone to have a check on the mutations.
The variant can be found across the UK, focusing heavily in London, the South East, and eastern England. Cases elsewhere in the country do not seem to have recorded.
Nextstrain, which monitors the genetic codes of the virus samples around the globe, suggests that the variant might have come from Denmark and Australia.
There is still no need to panic as the technology used in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are now much easier to be adjusted accordingly and the pharma companies can update them than conventional vaccines. The new vaccines also generate a massive immune response in many patients, so COVID-19 may need many mutations over the years before the vaccines are tweaked. Keep your fingers crossed and stay safe!