UK Covid Variant Will ‘Sweep The World’, Says Top Genome Sequencing Expert

Professor Sharon Peacock, head of UK's genetic surveillance programme, said that once the virus mutates itself out of being virulent then one can stop worrying about it

The UK’s head of the UK genetic monitoring program predicts that the mutation in Kent will “sweep the world’ as it attempts to control different variants of coronavirus.

The Kent variant “swept the country” and “it’s going to sweep the world, in all probability” Prof. Sharon Peacock said to the BBC newscast podcast.

Prof Peacock said that her work sequencing variants of the virus could be required for at least 10 years. The UK COVID-19 variant that was first found in Kent has already been detected in nearly 100 countries.

The Kent B117 variation was found to spread rapidly across the country in the following months and the government declared fresh lock-downs in January, first in September in south-eastern England.

Prof. Peacock said that transmissibility is what has really influenced the UK at the moment. She said that when the virus mutates because it is virulent, one should stop worrying. “But, I think we will do it for years in the future. In my opinion, we will always do it ten years down the road,” she said. “We will do it.

Experts agree that the latest vaccines developed to combat the earlier strains of the virus, like the UK strain, can still be used for the new one. They could not be as successful, however. Prof Peacock said the UK’s approved vaccines seem to work well against the virus variants already in nature.

In addition, while new variations are common to see, there are only a few ‘specific features,’ Professor Peacock said. These characteristics may make them more transmissible, prevent immune reactions, influence vaccination and may even lead to more serious diseases. “I’d say it happens occasionally but we need to be looking for this,” she said. “Those are the things that we look for.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has recommended the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine widely. The agency recommended the use of the Oxford vaccine even for the South African variant that might reduce its efficacy.

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