New Covid Strain: Is Mutated Virus Cause For Concern?

On Saturday, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the new mutant strain of the coronavirus is “out of control”, leading Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose fresh restrictions on parts of the nation to control its spread.

A new variant Covid-19 strain which was discovered in the United Kingdom last week which seems to spread more easily, causing alarm in many countries.

New variants, or strains, of Covid-19, have been seen almost everywhere since it was first detected in China nearly a year ago.

On Saturday, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the new mutant strain of the coronavirus is “out of control”, leading Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose fresh restrictions on parts of the nation to control its spread.

Here’s what is known about the New Covid Strain

  • What’s Concerning About The Recent Strain Found In England?

Experts believe that the vaccines will be effective against the new strain, but this new variant spreads faster, hence, the UK government was compelled to take urgent action.

Patrick Vallance, the British government’s chief scientific adviser, said that the strain “moves fast and is becoming the dominant variant,” causing over 60% of infections in London by December.

”The strain is also concerning because it has so many mutations and some are on the spiky protein that the virus uses to attach to and infect cells. That spike is what current vaccines target,” added Vallance.

“Covid-19 is a deadly disease. We need to keep it under control, but it has been made more difficult by this new variant,” said Hancock.

“I’m worried about this, for sure,” but it’s too soon to know how important it ultimately will prove to be, said Dr. Ravi Gupta, who studies viruses at the University of Cambridge in England.

He and other researchers posted a report of it on a website.  But the paper has not been formally reviewed or published in a journal.

  • How do these new strains occur?

A slightly modified strain can become the most common in any region just because “super spreader” events helped it become entrenched.

Viruses often acquire small changes of a letter or two in their genetic alphabet just through normal evolution.

When a virus mutates by changing the proteins on its surface, the big worry is that it may help it escape from drugs or the immune system.

“Worry is that scientists subsequently discovered that the new strain in the UK was “much more transmissible than the other variants in circulation”, Dr. Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England (PHE) said.

  • How harmful is the new Covid strain?

There is no evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments, although urgent work is underway to confirm this.

Jens Spahn told public broadcaster ZDF, citing talks among experts of European authorities that according to everything we know so far” the new strain “has no impact on the vaccines”, which remain “just as effective”.

  • Does India face any threat?

To discuss the new strain of the novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom, Health Ministry’s top advisory body will meet urgently on Monday.

According to sources, the Health Ministry’s top advisory body will meet urgently today-experts from AIIMS and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), along with a representative from the World Health Organisation (WHO), will attend the meeting on the new strain which has triggered concern and prompted several European countries to stop incoming flights from the UK.

The Joint Monitoring Group (JMG), chaired by the Director-General of Health Services (DGHS) will hold a meeting today to discuss the issue of the mutated variant of the coronavirus reported from the UK.

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