By Hanie Abdul Razak
A new variant of the coronavirus is believed to be the cause of a very sharp sting of infections, the UK government said in parliament on Monday. As a result, London and three parts of surrounding counties are due to enter Tier-3 borders from Wednesday onwards.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said more than 1000 cases of the new variant had been identified, mainly in the south of England. He also called for the swift and decisive action to contain this new variant, as the multiplication of cases has reached worrying levels.
The Health Secretary also eased concerns saying the new variant is unlikely to affect the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Tier-3 restrictions would imply closure of accommodation venues such as pubs, restaurants and in the entertainment sector such as theaters, etc. People from different homes will also not be allowed to mix indoors. However, up to six people can gather outside. Shops and schools can also remain open.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the move an incredible disappointment for business, but conceded the need to return to a near-blocked state.
Sky News scientific correspondent Thomas Moore also said that the virus mutation is something extremely common and that because a virus adapts to the human body, it actually presents milder symptoms, as in the case of the cold.
What worries about a possible coronavirus mutation is a mutation of the stinging protein, a protein that covers the new coronavirus. The Pfizer vaccine works by producing this spike protein in the body and the immune system responds to it as a foreign material.
Catherine Bennett, a professor of epidemiology at the Faculty of Health at Deakin University in Melbourne, told Sky News that “If the virus changes a lot, especially the spike proteins, then it could escape a vaccine. We want to slow transmission worldwide to stop the clock . ”
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