Is the vaccine effective against it? And why is it referred to as the “worst ever”?

NEW Covid variant threatens to fight the virus. “deeply concerning” scientists.

Although ministers have made great efforts to keep the virus from entering the UK, there is still a chance that the fast-growing strain may already be here.

The virus has evolved once again


The virus has again evolvedCredit: Getty

Scientifically, the variant is called B.1.1.529. It has been only recognized in the past few days.

It would be given the name “Nu”If the World Health Organization determines that the strain is not a, it will notify the World Health Organization. “Variant of Concern”.

Most of the infections are found in South Africa. This country has experienced a dramatic rise in Covid cases.

Because of its unique characteristics, it has the potential to alter the course and outcome of the pandemic. However, scientists don’t know much about this.

What do we know now?

It is the worst thing ever!

Experts agree that this variant is very dangerous.

Prof Ewan Birney, Deputy Director General of European Molecular Biology Laboratory, said: “Early evidence from genomic surveillance in South Africa suggests that B.1.1.529 is a serious cause for concern.”

This strain doubled the mutations in Delta and has grown to world dominance because it spread so quickly.

Sharon Peacock (Director of COG UK Genomics UK Consortium) stated that initial observations indicate the variant could be. “outcompete Delta – the ‘fittest’ variant we have seen to date”.

She stated that her concerns were the rapid growth of cases and the fact that the variant contained so many mutations that some scientists are not able to identify.

What year did it first appear in the public eye?

The new strain was first identified by scientists in the UK on November 23rd.

Samples were uploaded to a website that tracks coronavirus variants from South Africa, Hong Kong, and then Botswana.

How many are there?

So far, less than 100 cases have been reported in South Africa and Botswana.

While there aren’t many cases as of yet, it’s the speed at which they have grown that are concerning.

Are there any UK cases?

According to officials, such as the Health Secretary Sajid javid, there are no current cases in the UK.

Dr Susan Hopkins is the chief medical adviser of the UK Health Security Agency. “always possible”This variant was already available in the UK.

She answered the question on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “It’s always possible, we have no cases identified whatsoever yet.”

Is it spreading faster?

Scientists claim that the strain is spreading faster than Delta in South Africa based on their observations, but no conclusive evidence has been found.

Mr Javid stated: “The early indication we have of this variant is it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective against it.”

Dr Hopkins stated that the R rate in Gauteng, South Africa, where the variant is concentrated, has jumped to 2.

It was, she said. “really quite high”Similar to what it would have been in the UK prior to the March 2020 lockdown.

Professor James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institution, explained the variant to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. “looks like it spreads more quickly but we do not know that”.

Are vaccines effective against it?

It’s too early to say, but experts fear it could weaken vaccine efficacy by up to 40 per cent.

This estimate is based on comparing it with the Beta variant, which was originally discovered in South Africa in December 2020. It also had some anti-antibody dodging mutations.

Professor Naismith will be the new version “almost certainly”Make the vaccines less efficient.

This variant is deeply concerning to our scientists

Sajid Javid The Health Secretary

Prof Neil Ferguson, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said: “The B.1.1.529 variant has an unprecedented number of mutations in the spike protein gene, the protein which is the target of most vaccines.

“There is therefore a concern that this variant may have a greater potential to escape prior immunity than previous variants.

“However, we do not yet have reliable estimates of the extent to which B.1.1.529 might be either more transmissible or more resistant to vaccines, so it is too early to be able to provide an evidence-based assessment of the risk it poses.”

Do we need to be worried?

Scientists “deeply concerned”Mr Javid provided information about this variant.
Dr Hopskins said: “It is the most worrying [variant] we’ve seen.”

Prof Naismith stated that despite the “bad news”It is “not doomsday”As the UK has improved at controlling the virus,

Francois Balloux is Professor of Computational Systems Biology, Director, UCL Genetics Institute. UCL said: “Scientists and politicians should try to keep a cool head, and I can see no benefit in the UK public being alarmed.”

It is different from all other variations.

Although the virus was only tracked for three days, 50 mutations have been identified, 30 of which are spike proteins.

This is compared to the Delta variant which has been world-dominant.

Mutations are changes in the viruses’ genetic makeup that make it behave differently. Sometimes, the mutations have no effect while other times they give the virus an advantage.

The mutations have features that are common in all the variants, as well as traits that are not yet known.

It is linked to previous strains that could avoid vaccines by having mutations K417N or E484A.

It also contains the mutation N501Y, which makes viruses more transmissible. This mutation was previously observed on the fast-spreading Alpha version.

Is it a classified as a “variant of concern”?

UK scientists are not yet able to confirm its transmissibility. Some have expressed concern.

It is commonly known as a “variant under monitoring”Scientists believe that it could pose a risk in the future, however, its impact on humans is unknown.

Prof Balloux thinks it could be. “variant of concern”The WHO at the end the week.

It is where did it come?

Experts speculate that the variant may have been developed in a chronically ill individual.

This is also how the Alpha variant was first observed in Kent at 2020.

Professor Ravi Gupta of the University of Cambridge’s clinical microbiology department has stated: “B.1.1.529 has signatures of cumulative mutation indicating that it emerged in a chronic infection.”

When will we get more answers?

Scientists in Britain are eager to collect live virus cultures so that it can be closely examined.

However, this can take time and could prove costly. “weeks”Dr Hopkins stated that we need to find out how it affects vaccines before we can make any conclusions.

It can take 7-10 days for enough virus to be able to be shared with scientists so they can examine how it changes and mutates.

Officials will also need to wait for data from South Africa.

They expect evidence to arrive within two to three weeks. However, it could take up to four to six weeks.

Which countries are on the red-list?

Flights to South Africa, Namibia or Lesotho, Botswana and Eswatini will be suspended starting Friday at midday.

All six countries will be included in the red list.

People from these nations will need to be quarantined at a government-approved Hotel and kept there for 10 days.

Before that, individuals must quarantine at home for ten days and undergo PCR tests.

Entry to England will be denied to non-UK or Irish citizens who have visited these countries within the last 10 days starting Friday 26 November at 12 noon.

Learn more about the travel rules.

Dr Susan Hopkins, UK Health Chief, says new variant of Delta is “most concerning” and could weaken vaccines

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