What is the new strain of the COVID-19 detected in the UK?

12/22/2020
About new strain of the Coronavirus

The new strain of the Sars-CoV-2 virus is known as VUI - 202012/01 (the first Variant Under Investigation in December 2020) or the lineage B.1.1.7. 

This variant alarmed the scientists when it began to turn up more frequently in Coronavirus samples collected from parts of South England in December 2020. The variant has undergone 23 mutations.

In preliminary studies, scientists and researchers have found that people who are infected with the new strain of the coronavirus carry a heightened viral load. In simple words, a higher concentration of the virus is found in the upper respiratory tract, which in other viral diseases is associated with more severe symptoms. 

As per scientists, a similar variant has been detected in South Africa in 90% of the samples whose genetic sequences have been analysed since November 2020.  

As of 13 December 2020, 1,108 cases with this variant have been identified, predominantly in the South and East of England.

Is the new strain of the virus deadly?
As per several scientists and researchers, the new strain of the virus is not more deadly but is 70% more transmissible compared to the previous mutations. 

The new strain, B.1.1.7, is said to be spreading fast. The first case was detected in September 2020 and around a quarter of cases in London were mutant ones within 2 months. By mid-December, the said cases rose to nearly two-thirds.  

As quoted by 3AW, Director of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham, Professor Willem van Schaik stated that the new strain of the coronavirus is not more deadly but is contagious. This means that it is easier for this strain of the coronavirus to spread from one person to another. 

From where the new strain of the coronavirus came?
The new strain of the virus has undergone several mutations and it might have emerged in a patient with a weakened immune system who was unable to beat the virus and his body became breeding ground for the virus to mutate. 

Will vaccines work against the new strain of Coronavirus?
As per the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Director General Shekhar Mande, the vaccines will work against the new strain of Coronavirus. 

As quoted by India Today, Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome Trust stated that at present, there's no indication that the new strain of the Coronavirus would evade treatments and vaccines. However, the mutation reminds us of the power of the virus to adapt which cannot be ruled out in the future.

According to scientists, the Moderna, Pfizer and other vaccines that are currently in development will work on this variant. 

Places where lineage B.1.1.7. has been detected
Apart from the United Kingdom, the new strain has been found in other countries such as Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands. Australia has also confirmed that the two travelers who travelled from Britain to New South Wales carried the mutated virus. 

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