The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday (local time) announced that coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom on September 20, has been reported in 86 countries.
Variant B.1.1.7 has shown a rapid spread in transmissibility, and some evidence of an increase in disease severity is based on preliminary findings.
According to CNN’s report, as of February 7, an additional six countries have reported cases of this variant.
However, the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update that, in the UK, for example, COVID-19 test samples of this strain increased from 63 per cent in the week of December 14 to 90 per cent in the week of January 18.
The WHO has also been observing two additional coronavirus strains that are actively spreading: B.1.351, initially seen in South Africa, and the P.1 strain that was first identified in Brazil, CNN reported.
As of February 7, the B.1.351 strain has been reported in 44 countries, while the P.1 strain has been reported in 15 nations, said the WHO.
According to CNN, scientists are not surprised to see the coronavirus changing and evolving but they fear that a variant could mutate to the point that it causes more severe disease, bypasses the ability of tests to detect it, or evades the protection provided by vaccination.