A new, mutated and more infectious strain of Coronavirus has begun to spread in the United Kingdom, worrying medical professionals, vaccine makers and governments across the world. Here are some aspects of the new viral strain that have been discovered so far.
A Key Mutation
As noted in a brief by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), in studies conducted on the Coronavirus variant, several spike protein mutations were seen.
As per the medical journal, Covid-19: New coronavirus variant is identified in UK, the spike protein that the virus uses to bind itself to humans has mutated. A total of 17 mutations have been found so far.
Much more transmissible
Healthcare experts of NERVTAG (New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group), stated that the mutated strain was 71 per cent more transmissible. This new strain has caused a rise in the number of COVID-19 infections in South East England, in the past couple of weeks.
Impact on vaccines
As noted by medical journal, since antibodies produced after vaccination affects many regions of the spike protein in question, the single mutation is not a cause for alarm yet. If the mutations increase, then the efficacy of the vaccine might get reduced.
Cause for Alarm
England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, told the CNBC that the “new variant not only moves fast, it is increased in its ability to transmit, but it’s becoming the dominant variant. It is beating all the others in terms of transmission.”
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock further raised the alarm when he claimed that the new strain was “out of control,” in the BBC One programme, The Andrew Marr Show, on Sunday.
Two patients, one from the Netherlands and one from Italy, are affected by the new strain.
So far, India, Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Bulgaria have restricted travel to and from the United Kingdom. The Port of Dover, which connects England to France, has been closed as well. Trains services, from London to Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam, were suspended as well.