What is the UK Virus strain? Here are 12 things to know

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UK virus strain has caused infections to thousands already and has become a global concern with its quick transmission of the disease. Just when we thought that the pandemic was to end soon and the government would begin administering its first shot of COVID-19 vaccines, the world has detected another variant of virus in the U.K which is likely to be more dangerous than other existing viruses.

As the new strain of this virus is said to be more dangerous due to it’s sparking fresh fears by transmitting the disease quickly, there is yet  “no evidence” whether the virus deteriorates people’s health or increases the risk of death, said the CDC earlier this week. The CDC noted that the new coronavirus “mutates regularly,” but the overwhelming majority of mutations are insignificant.

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While scientists and virus experts are still working to gather more information about the new strain, the virus has already caused infections to thousands and has become a concern globally.  More than 40 countries excluding the U.S have now suspended transport links with the U.K. after the new variation of the coronavirus was found.

Before the latest mutation called N5017 was found in the U.K, Malaysia reported a new mutation that seemed to have already spread to the rest of the world.

Here are 12 things to know about the new virus strain:

  • UK Virus strain was found in 1,108 cases in the U.K  as of 13 December according to the World Health Organization. However, scientists and disease experts are still running additional tests to confirm which strain of the virus a patient is infected with, including sequencing the genetic code.
  • According to the WHO, the variant of this new virus was traced back to Southeast England in Kent where it was found on September 20, based on a retrospective analysis. However, the cases increased rapidly by October, and by November,  the rise took an unexpected jump which led to an investigation of the mutation earlier this month.
  • The U.K. has said the variant to be up to 70% more dangerous as it is easily and quickly transmissible than the original strain of the virus.
  • It is estimated that each person infected with the new virus strain has the potential of infecting another 1.5 people.

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  • U.K. officials are conducting epidemiological and virological investigations to determine whether the variant is more infectious, whether it deteriorates people’s health or increases the risk of death, and if it can re-infect people who were previously detected of  COVID-19. The officials are also researching on the antibody that would positively respond to the new variant prompts.
  • While high transmissibility may be a concern, experts are still researching if the new strain can be responsible for a higher mortality rate.
  • Apart from the epidemiological and virological investigations, officials are also conducting genomic surveillance to understand the scope of the spread of the new variant across the country. The U.K. has also placed affected areas under tier 4 restrictions, the strongest Covid rules in the country.
  • WHO is conducting laboratory studies to determine if the new virus strain has unique biological properties or could alter existing vaccine efficiency.
  • The new strain of the UK virus incorporates a mutation named N5017 in the coronavirus spike protein. This allows the virus to latch on to human cells, and penetrate them.
  • Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech said that he is positive the company’s virus vaccine with Pfizer will work effectively to defeat the new strain. To the said statement, he also added that further studies will be required to be completely sure about the same.

Also Read: Coronavirus New Variant: Genomics Researcher Answers Key Questions

  • As per Dr. Moncef Slaoui, an American researcher and former head of Gettysburg College, President Donald Trump’s coronavirus vaccine czar and Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 shots will be effective against the new mutation.
  • Currently, there are no active cases of the new virus strain in the US but according to CDC, the disease may already be circulating around the United States without notice.

Vanshika is an Intern with SheThePeople.TV