Reports from Britain of a new coronavirus strain that seems to spread more easily are causing alarm. The UK has identified a fast-moving new variant of the coronavirus that is reportedly 70% more transmissible than existing strains. Scientists and experts, studying the widely reported mutation in novel coronavirus or COVID-19, believe that there are still too many FACTS that are 'unknowns' as far as the effects of the mutation are concerned.
Authorities in UK have said that the new strain of coronavirus is now 'out of control.' Indian-American physician Vivek Murthy, US President-elect Joe Biden's pick for Surgeon General, has said there is no evidence to suggest that a new and more contagious coronavirus variant reported in the UK is any deadlier.
"This news from the UK appears to be about a new strain of the virus that’s more transmissible, more contagious than the virus we’ve seen prior to this," he said.
Reportedly, the new strain is named VUI-202012/01 (the first “Variant Under Investigation” in December 2020) and is defined by a set of 17 changes or mutations.
According to a BBC report, three factors are causing concern over the new variant of COVID-19.
New Virus Strain: Cause of concern
1-It is said to spread faster than the other versions – 70 per cent more infectious
2-It is the most common version of the virus in the UK
3-There have been changes to the spike protein of the virus, which plays a key role in unlocking the doorway to the body's cells
Meanwhile, Sharon Peacock, director of COG-UK, told the Science Media Centre briefing: “With this variant, there is no evidence that it will evade the vaccination or human immune response. But if there is an instance of vaccine failure or reinfection then that case should be treated as a high priority for genetic sequencing.”
Travel restrictions over new strain
However, several countries have announced restrictions on UK travel and suspended flights amid growing concerns of an "out of control" new variant of coronavirus spreading at a much faster pace in parts of England.
India too has suspended flights from the UK till December 31. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has informed that considering the prevailing situation in the UK, the Indian government has decided that all flights originating from the UK to India shall be temporarily suspended till 11:59 pm, 31st December. This suspension to start w.e.f. 11.59 pm, December 22.