A new strain of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19 has sent alarm bells ringing across Europe and some parts of the world.
British officials blame the new strain, identified as VUI – 202012/01, for the increased spread of infections in the country. Officials and scientists say, the strain which first emerged in southeast England, spreads 70 per cent faster.
The high contagious rate has prompted several countries around the world to impose fresh travel restrictions. Some nations have announced a ban on incoming flights from the United Kingdom.
That’s only natural since the strain has also been detected in travellers arriving in South Africa and Australia. The reaction is expected in a world that is slowly recovering from the devastating effects of the coronavirus.
The new strain should not stop our lives, but we should bolster our defence. Masks, hand washing and social distancing are our weapons against the coronavirus. Use them
The virus continues to spread around the world, and the advent of the new strain calls for abundant caution. It’s only prudent although early reports suggest there’s no cause for panic. What’s clear is that the mutated virus spreads much faster, but so far there’s no evidence that it’s more deadly.
There’s been no spike in fatality and recovery rates in the areas where the strain has spread. And scientists categorically state that all the leading vaccines would continue to protect against the new strain, although the mutation has been in the spikes of the virus which the vaccines target.
Slow mutation of coronavirus
All viruses mutate, that’s not new. And the coronaviruses are rather sluggish in mutating. Their mutations are estimated at around two variations a month, which is good news when compared to the mutations of an influenza virus.
So between Wuhan in China (where the virus was discovered) and Kent in England, there have been about 25 mutations. And these mutations haven’t made the pathogen more virulent. But that’s no reason to be complacent.
Britain has been swift in imposing restrictions, having learned from the tardy response to the initial onslaught of the coronavirus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has introduced a new level of restrictions in the areas where the mutant virus has surfaced. That has put a damper on millions of people who have expected relaxation in rules for Christmas.
Christmas and New Year celebrations around the world will have to be muted like all other festivals this year. The new strain may not be deadly, but it has to be feared due to the high infection rate. People should continue to follow the COVID safety protocols diligently.
The new strain should not stop our lives, but we should bolster our defence. Masks, hand washing and social distancing are our weapons against the coronavirus. Use them.