U.K scientists have recently discovered a new SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.7. They say this appears to be more contagious as it tends to be transmitted quickly compared to the other existing strains. Although there are currently no strong indications that B.1.1.7 causes more serious diseases, the probability should still be taken into consideration. The development of this new variant has raised concerns on the efficacy of the vaccines; most experts say that it will still work on the new variant although experiments are still ongoing.
CNN: The new variant is being called VUI-202012/01 — the first “Variant Under Investigation” in the UK in December 2020
According to CNN, while scientists hunt for more information about the new Coronavirus variant called VUI-202012/01, its impact is already being felt.
As with other new variants or strains of Covid-19, this one carries a genetic fingerprint that makes it easy to track, and it happens to be one that is now common. That alone does not necessarily mean the mutation has made it spread more easily, nor does it not necessarily mean this variation is more dangerous.
Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said that the variant was responsible for 60% of new infections in London, which have nearly doubled in the last week alone.
The new variant of Covid-19 originated in southeast England, according to the World Health Organization.
Concerns on the vaccines’ efficacy due to the development of this new strain has been raised, but Whitty said Saturday that current vaccines should still work against the new variant.
The New York Times: The coronavirus variant is known as B.1.1.7.
The New York Times reports that the variant came to the attention of researchers in December, when it began to turn up more frequently in samples from parts of southern England. It turned out to have been collected from patients as early as September.
Researchers in the U.K. have found that the virus is spreading quickly in parts of southern England, displacing a crowded field of other variants that have been circulating for months.
When asked where this variant came from, medical experts said that sometimes the virus infects people with weak immune systems. In their bodies, the virus can thrive for months. Case studies on these immunocompromised people have shown that the virus can accumulate a large number of mutations as it replicates in their bodies for a long period of time.