Just when things were getting back to normal, with people getting into Christmas mood, and planning to ring in the New Year in the ‘new normal’, harrowing news came all the way from the UK, which has again left the entire world aghast. Reportedly, there’s a new strain of coronavirus that has been found in the UK, and has infected thousands of Britons already.
As per the British news agency, Reuters, the new strain of the SARS-CoV2, which the experts are referring to it as B.1.1.7 lineage, is spreading rapidly and has become a global concern. And, due to the fear of the rapid spread of the new variant of the virus, more than 40 countries including India, Spain and Hong Kong, have banned UK arrivals in order to cut down the transmission risk.
This is not the first time that the COVID-19 virus has undergone a mutation. Previously, reports of a new mutation in Malaysia had created a lot of buzz. Apparently, the new strain of the virus is prevalent in the Southern parts of England. Apart from the UK, a similar variant has been detected in South Africa, which too is spreading at a faster rate. While the new variant is more prominent in the UK, countries like Austria, Italy, Netherlands, Iceland, Denmark and Belgium have also detected cases of the newly mutated coronavirus.
While the new strain of coronavirus has not been detected in India yet, medical experts around the world are cautioning and advising people to follow all the protective measures. Is the new virus deadlier than the original one? Where has the new strain come from? Will it lead to the second, deadly wave of COVID-19? Here’s everything you need to know about the latest strain of the novel coronavirus.
Does it spread faster?
According to a report by Reuters, the new strain of the virus has undergone 23 mutations in its genetic code, because of which the new variant is spreading on a faster rate. As compared to previous mutations occurred in the novel coronavirus, this strain of the virus is 40%-70% more transmissible.
According to various reports, the first case of B.1.1.7 was reported in the month of September and within two months, the UK saw a rise in the number of mutated coronavirus cases. By mid-December, the number of cases doubled up to nearly two-thirds.
Where has it come from?
The highly mutated strain of the novel coronavirus emerged in a patient with a weakened immune system who failed to beat the virus. And as a result, the patient’s body became a breeding ground for the virus to mutate, states a BBC report.
Is the new variant deadly?
Although there is no strong evidence so far which states that the new variant is deadly than the previous mutations or the original virus, the increased transmission risk is the concern here. It should be noted that since this variant spreads on a faster rate, it will lead to more cases and eventually, more hospital treatments, which may topple the health care sector.
Will the vaccines work on the new variant?
Here’s the good news! The coronavirus vaccines are very much likely to work on the latest strain of coronavirus. Ever since the news of new mutation broke out, questions were raised whether the coronavirus vaccines would be effective against the new mutation. But scientists say there’s no evidence that the vaccines like Pfizer and BioNtech won’t protect against this variant.
On the same note, Adam Finn, a vaccine specialist and professor of paediatrics at Bristol University, told Reuters “It’s unlikely that this will have anything more than a minor if any, the effect on the vaccine’s effectiveness.” The chief scientific adviser of Britain, Patrick Vallance also claimed that the vaccines are able to generate an adequate amount of immune response which can protect against the variant of the SARS-Cov2.