The new variant of COVID-19 has been described as “a real cause of concern” in the UK, which is believed to be behind the rapid spread of infections in the south-east.
But this is not the first time the virus has mutated since the outbreak, it may be a mutation – or a change in the virus’s genetic makeup – that may even be the first time it has changed how infectious it is.
So, what do we know about this so far?
Is it more contagious?
Yes. It seems. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said New variant strain, VUI-202012/01, may be 70% more contagious and may increase the R number to 0.4.
Recent figures suggest that the strain is responsible for 43% of new infections in the Southeast – 59% of new cases in the east of the UK and 62% in London.
Professor Chris Witty, the UK’s chief medical officer, said: “They have risen very fast over the last few weeks.”
Sir Patrick Valens, Chief Scientific Adviser, noted that “an unusually large number of variations” – 23 different variations – have been identified by this new strain.
Following preliminary modeling data and rapidly increasing incidence rates in the Southeast, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threat Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now acknowledges that the new strain could spread rapidly.
Professor Witty said he had warned the World Health Organization about its existence – and would focus on analyzing data related to the spread of the mutation.
As he announced the introduction Layer 4 controls To London and the Southeast, Boris Johnson told the nation: “As science changes, so must our response.
“When the virus changes its attack methods, we have to change our security system – as your Prime Minister, I truly believe there is no alternative.”
Professor Witty urged people not to travel outside these areas because it is “significantly at risk” to pass.
Will it make people more sick?
Professor Witty said “there is currently no evidence that the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or affects vaccines and treatment,” but work is underway to confirm this.
However, Jeremy Farrer, director of the Wellcome Trust, a medical research charity, said in a tweet that its existence was still “worrying and a real cause for concern”.
He added: “Research is ongoing to understand more, but it is important to act urgently now. No part of the UK has to worry globally. The situation is as weak as in many other countries.”
Does the new strain respond to the vaccine?
The COVID-19 The Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium said it was difficult to predict whether any mutation would be significant when it first emerged, but acknowledged that any changes that could lead to a restructuring increase or vaccine failure would be a major concern.
But Professor Witty says that until now, there is no evidence to suggest vaccines and treatments for new strain sufferers.
He warned that “urgent work” was being done to ensure this, and that “more than ever, it was important for people to continue to take action to reduce the spread of the virus.”
So far, experts have not found any variants that can make a vaccine less effective, and the virus is slow to change.
Professor Witty said it would be surprising if the vaccine had an impact.
Federico Giorgi, a University of Bologna researcher who coordinated a study on strains of COVID-19, told the Science Daily: “The SARS-CoV-2 corona virus is already adapting to infect humans, and this explains its low evolution.
“This means that the therapies we develop, including vaccines, are effective against all viral strains.”
What are the different strains?
So far, COVID-19 has had at least seven major groups or strains because it is compatible with its human hosts.
The original strain, discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year, is called El Strain.
It was changed to S strain at the beginning of 2020, following the V and G strains.
Strain G is commonly found in Europe and North America – but these continents were slow to control movement, allowing the virus to spread rapidly, so GR, GH, and GV
Meanwhile, the original El Strain lasted a long time in Asia because many countries, including China, were quick to close their borders and stop the movement.
Many less frequent mutations are grouped together as strain O.
In Denmark, officials were concerned about the spread of the virus to 12 people related to mink farming.
They feared the mutation could inhibit the effectiveness of a vaccine because it occurred in spike protein, which resulted in the government ordering a large calf of up to 17 million animals and a month-long lockout.
What are the most common strains around the world?
G strains now dominate around the world, especially in Italy and Europe, corresponding to spikes in eruptions.
A specific mutation, D614G, is the most common variant. Some experts say this variant has made the virus more contagious, but other studies have contradicted this.
Meanwhile, previous strains such as the original L strain and V strain are gradually disappearing.
Reuters News Agency’s analysis that Australia’s rapid response to epidemics and effective social remote measures has eliminated the spread of previous L & S strains in the country, and new infections as a result of G strains brought in from abroad.
In Asia, G, GH and GR strains have been on the rise since the beginning of March, more than a month after they began to spread in Europe.