New Strain of COVID-19: What is it, and Should You be Worried?
Recently, a few days back, the U.K reported the discovery of a new strain of COVID-19 and it being ‘out of control.’ It is said that it travels faster than novel coronavirus. As soon as Prime Minister Boris Johnson informed about the new variant of coronavirus, flights from and to the United Kingdom were canceled. The borders of the UK are currently sealed to stop the spreading of the new strain.
This is the only information everyone knows about, but what is it, and is it a sign that we all have to be concerned? Let’s read and learn in detail about the new covid-19 strain.
What Is the New Strain of COVID-19?
As of December 13th, 2020, there were 1,108 cases of this new coronavirus strain, mostly in South and East England. This new strain of coronavirus is named VUI – 202012/01, also known as lineage B.1.1.7.
The research on the new strain of SARS-CoV2 is under investigation about its properties. So we can’t really say if it is that harmful. The only information we know is – It is 70% transmissible than the old variant of Coronavirus.
As said above, there’s not much information about the new strain of Coronavirus, so it is too early to make any claims about its severity or mildness. Our focus should be on containing it so that it doesn’t spread fast everywhere.
Should We Be Concerned About the New Variant?
Honestly, the mutation is something that is normal in viruses, and we all know about the mutation of coronavirus from the very start. It doesn’t have a stable genetic structure. Most of the time the mutated version is less virulent.
However, we need to stay alert about this new strain. Why? Because it is spreading quickly. Even if it is having the same severity and not deathly, it will make more people ill in a shorter period of time.
The Public Health England is investigating the B.1.1.7 virus in detail because particularly this one strain is spreading faster. Now the question is, how fast is it spreading?
In Downing Street briefing Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “Although there’s considerable uncertainty, it may be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the old variant, the original version of the disease. This is early data, and it’s subject to review. But it’s the best that we have at the moment, and we have to act on information as we have it because this is now spreading very fast.”
However, he also emphasized, “There’s no evidence to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness, or that vaccines will be less effective against it.”
What Is Different in the New Strain of COVID-19?
The mutation in the viruses is normal, but why is this one more hyped or something to worry about?
As per the npr.org, “This new variant in the U.K., called B.1.1.7, has acquired mutations much quicker than scientists expect. The variant has 17 different mutations in its genetic code. And eight of those mutations occur in a critical part of the virus, called the spike protein, which reaches out and binds to human cells during the initial stages of infection.”
This is also the reason that will make it pretty surprising if it can evade the human immune system.
This variant was first discovered in late September, but it eliminated all the other forms of coronavirus out there and became the dominant one till early December. Right now, there are around 60 percent cases in England with the new variant. We guess this is enough evidence to tell that it is more transmissible than the previous one.
Which Are the Other Mutated Coronavirus That We Need to Know About?
Yes, there are other mutated COVID-19 strains as well. There’s a reason why only this one is in the news all over and affecting everyone, because of its unnatural genetic mutation. You already read about it in the above section. There are two more worrisome mutations in lineage B.1.1.7.
- There is one virus mutation named N501Y, which is spreading rapidly in South Africa. In this strain, the virus binds more tightly to the human cells.
- Another new D614G COVID-19 strain also spreads ten times faster than the novel Coronavirus.
What Steps the Uk and Other Countries Have Taken to Contain the Spread of a New Strain of COVID-19?
If it is 70% transmissive, we need to be extra cautious, or it can worsen the situation. Think about countries like the USA, India, Brazil, and others where the cases are already rising, and hospitals are also full, it will become hard to control.
Before anything, let’s see in what countries have the new COVID strain? Denmark, Australia, Italy, Netherland, and South Africa.
Now, what steps are being taken to contain the spread?
All the flight from and to the UK has been banned by most of the countries. Countries like Saudi Arabia have halted entry through the land route as well as the seaports. The UK has implemented tier-4 restrictions for London and other Southern England countries.
In Tier-4 restrictions, all the non-essentials, hairdressers, and indoor leisure venues will have to shut down with the standard business hours. The news about the same came out just a few days before Christmas. The decision to celebrate Christmas (December 23rd to 27th) with the three households is canceled in the tier-4 areas and curtailed for the rest of England.
Now the most asked and worried question,
Will Vaccine Work Against the New COVID-19 Strain?
We already cleared above that there’s no news about the new covid strain being severely harmful. There was no spike up in death rates, so we can estimate that it isn’t deathly (for now, at least).
The scientist says this new strain of COVID-19 can’t escape the effect of the vaccine. Why? The vaccine works on our immune system by showing them the genetic code of the virus, so that it can mount the defense system to fight against it.
The new coronavirus strain will have the same basic structure, it can change over time if more mutation occurs. The changes in the spike protein in the new SARS-CoV-2 variant have resulted in being infectious and spread quickly among the people.
This was all that you needed to know about the new strain of COVID-19. Yes, it is an alarming situation, but don’t hype up or feel scared until the proper information is out. The things we know about the B.1.1.7, for now, is enough to take a step ahead and stay safe. Don’t forget to follow HealthClubFinder for more information about health-issues or updates on the coronavirus vaccine.