After the new strain of COVID-19 is found in the United Kingdom, it has now reached India as well. Currently, India is the latest country that has reported cases of this new strain of COVID-19. Even the vaccine of coronavirus is tempered by the new strain. Experts say that the virus has muted itself into a more powerful one. This time, the coronavirus is more transmissible.
This new strain of the virus is also reported in countries like Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Spain, Canada, Japan, and Germany. Alongside, the new strain is also affecting more than fifty countries. Since the new strain has been found in the United Kingdom first, all the UK’s transport system is closed down. The Government of almost all the countries has prevented any sort of transport or business exchanges with the country.
On 29th December, The Ministry of Health said that 6 people returning from the UK were tested positive. It was found that each of them was infected with the new strain of the virus. In Bangalore’s NIMHANS, three samples were tested. Moreover, two samples were tested in Hyderabad’s CCMB and one in Pune’s NIV. However, Pune has been tested positive for this virus’ new variant.
Now, there are lots of questions on the people’s minds regarding this new strain of Coronavirus. It is making people worry about their lives even more! We have come up with the answers to all your queries. Keep up with us to know what we have for you ahead.
What is the new strain of COVID?
The coronavirus that this world is already suffering from has muted itself. Thus, there has come up with a more powerful strain of this virus. This time, the virus is more transmissible. Scientists have given this new variant a name, which is ‘VUI – 202012/01’. The virus is undergoing genetic mutations in spike protein. The coronavirus of SARS-CoV-2 is using this protein to infect human cells.
Moreover, this new strain is also said to be undergoing many mutations. The virus uses spiky proteins for attaching to the cells and infecting them. The current vaccines are targeting these spikes to prevent the virus. The Health experts of the United States and the United Kingdom, have put forth their views about the recent strain. They said that this new strain of the virus is infecting people very easily. Moreover, as per the study of Britain, this strain is 50% to 74% more contagious.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of Britain, has said that this new variant can be 70% more transmissible than its initial version.
Why is SARS-CoV-2 different?
All samples of this new virus have been isolated from the patients. These strains have suggested that the new variant is increasing in relative frequency over the past 3 months. This increasing frequency of the new variant is concerning. This only suggests that B.1.1.7 isolates of the SARS-CoV-2 are more easily transmitted than the initial virus.
Since this new version is easily transmissible, it is obvious that the new strain is more dangerous. This new variant can make a large number of people sick at one go. However, only little is known about the severity of the disease that this new strain can cause. Since this virus’s first detection in 2019 in China, we have found new variants. Moreover, it is obvious for the viruses to mutate. They also develop small changes during reproduction or moving through the population, as per WHO.
Is the vaccine for COVID-19 effective against the new strain?
The experts from the European Union believe the recent COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech, to be effective against this new variant. These vaccines can prevent this virus from Britain and other countries. However, the European Medicines Agency said that there is no proof to suggest this.
BioNTech and AstraZeneca chiefs, also say that their company’s vaccine will likely be effective against this new virus. Ugur Sahin, Co-director of BioNTech German laboratory, said its vaccine likely to be effective against the muted version of coronavirus. But this virus can also adapt itself to the vaccine in 6 weeks. Furthermore, Ugur Sahin has said that the immune response by the current vaccine can also deal with the new strain.
Moreover, he adds that messenger technology enables them to prepare a vaccine against this recent strain. If necessary, they can technically provide a new vaccine within 6 weeks. Pascal Soriot, the CEO of AstraZeneca, told The Sunday Times confidently that the vaccine will work. According to him, his company has figured out the winning formula.
Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines work to train our immune systems so that they can recognize some specific versions of this viral spike protein. These vaccines use the spike proteins for matching these proteins of the original COVID-19. Now, this means that these vaccines may not be as effective as expected. Thus, the question remains, how effective can these current vaccines be?
How to reduce new COVID-19 risks?
As for now, there are no proofs that the new variant of coronavirus is spreading differently. Hence, people are supposed to follow all the regular and necessary COVID-19 protocols. These include wearing masks, washing your hands often, social distancing, and avoiding crowded public places. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO, has said that the transmission of this virus’ strains should be suppressed. This would be effective in controlling COVID-19.