How dangerous is new Covid-19 strain? All you need to know about mutant variant that spreads more quickly
The latest variant of Covid-19 is known as the VUI-202012/01 is now getting tested to check if it can trigger dramatic changes
Reports say here’s a new variant of Covid-19 on the rise and this has sparked a debate on how dangerous the new mutant strain is. The latest variant of Covid-19 known as the VUI-202012/01, whose existence was revealed by UK’s health secretary Matt Hancock, is now getting tested to check if it can trigger dramatic images. Scientists are also researching if the recent spike in Southern England of coronavirus occurred from the new variant of Covid-19.
These key questions have been answered recently by UK government’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty who stated, “as a result of the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary modeling data and rapidly rising incidence rates in the south-east... the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) now considers that the new strain can spread more quickly. We have alerted the World Health Organization and are continuing to analyze the available data to improve our understanding”, the Guardian reported.
The analysis process of the new variant of the virus will include testing its antibody responses and cross-reactions to various types of Covid-19 vaccines. Plus, UK government officials will also be carrying out random sequencing from various positive cases throughout the country to check its rapid spread across the nation. To complete the survey, the health ministry has estimated a minimum of two weeks, a report revealed.
The appearance of the new variant which consists of a number of mutations that have been spotted in the southern part of England may pose alarming risks, but the data says there have been already a number of variants before which did not increase the transmission of the disease. Last month, hundreds of Danish Covid-19 cases were shown to be associated with Sars-CoV-2 variants which got transmitted by farmed mink, data revealed. In another case, a new variant of Covid-19 was spotted which caused a rapid spread of cases in Europe and the UK, known to be originated from Spanish farmworkers.
Is the new variant more dangerous?
For now, there is no evident data that might indicate if the new strain could pose more risks of transmission than other Sars-CoV-2 coronaviruses. Researchers on the Covid-19 Genomics UK (Cog-UK) consortium who detected and identified the new variant will monitor the movement of the new strain for the next couple of weeks to see its progress around the country. Data regarding the genetic code of the virus will be additionally analyzed with the previous variants for further inspection.
Speaking of the new variant, Ewan Birney, deputy director-general of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and joint director of its European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge stated, “If the new variant was going to have a big impact on disease severity, we would have seen that by now.” He added, “Hospital cases as a proportion of numbers of infections would have either rocketed or dropped dramatically. Neither has happened, so we can conclude that the impact on numbers of severe cases is likely to be modest: slightly more or slightly fewer.”
Will vaccines work against the new strain?
Ewan Birney assured, “there is every reason to think that the vaccines will still work against this new strain, though obviously, that needs to be tested thoroughly.” Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization (WHO) emergencies program, stated, WHO was aware of the variant. “This kind of evolution and mutations are actually quite common,” he added. “The question, as we’ve had most recently with the mink variants in Denmark and previous variations, is: does this make the virus more serious? Does it allow the virus to transmit more easily? Does it in any way interfere with diagnostics? Would it in any way interfere with vaccine effectiveness? None of these questions are addressed yet.”