British government declares identification of “new variant” of coronavirus

The British government has issued a statement that a “new variant” of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which could cause a faster spread of the virus, has been identified. This information was published yesterday by Matt Hancock, the British Secretary of Health.

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“New Variation”

Many variants of the virus have been reported worldwide, but it is important that the virus is currently spreading rapidly in the South East of England, and the Health Secretary states that they believe this is due to the new variant. It should be noted that this is a related link and has not been confirmed as causation.

The new variant has been reported in 60 local authority regions, mostly in Kent, and is thought to be similar to other variants found in other countries in recent months.

Parts of Southern England will enter tighter block measures starting Wednesday, a measure that has been promoted due to the drastic increase in cases.

Evaluate the Variant

The Health Secretary said a British military research base, Porton Down, was examining the variant that there was no indication that it would cause more severe symptoms and that it was “highly unlikely” that the vaccine would not work on it. Although the variant has been associated with a drastic increase in cases in some area, there is still nothing to say that the virus spreads from person to person faster.

The stinging protein of the virus, which helps it infect other cells, is said to be the altered part in this new variant. This is the part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that vaccines target, and so it is important to control this variant.

The genetic information in many viruses can change very quickly and sometimes these changes can benefit the virus – allowing it to be transmitted more effectively or escape vaccines or treatments – but many changes have no effect at all. “

Professor Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Nottingham, to the BBC

The next step is to characterize the new variant and understand its origins. Although it was clear that people should not panic – development is a natural part of viruses and occurred in conjunction with the SARS-CoV-2 virus – it is important to seriously consider the variant.

With any variant, researchers need to find out if the behavior of the virus has changed, because that’s a problem and where things like vaccines and transmission can be affected.

It is important that we study any genetic changes as they occur, to find out if they affect how the virus behaves, and until we do that important work it is premature to make claims about the possible effects of a virus mutation. “

Professor Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Nottingham, to the BBC

What Mutations So Far?

To date, seven major strains of COVID-19 have been confirmed and mutations are thought to occur weekly around these – mostly without effect. It is important to remember that mutations occur in viruses at all times and can even have weak effects.

Some of the early strains (including strain L, the original discovered in Wuhan, China) have almost disappeared, and variants of strain G, which affected much of Europe and North America, now predominate.

In recent months, an strain has been detected on mink farms and has resulted in mass killing of mink in Denmark. The panic here was that the mutation was thought to affect the spike protein and authorities feared that this would affect the effectiveness of the vaccine that targets this protein.

Will New Variants Affect Vaccine Effectiveness?

Variants affecting the efficacy of the vaccines have not yet been confirmed. More information will appear on this new British variant soon, but it is not expected to affect the vaccines.

What remains constant is that the best method to control the virus is to reduce the spread. This will reduce their mutations and therefore reduce the chances of a mutation that defies the odds and affects vaccine efficacy.