The coronavirus took over our lives more than a year ago, since then it has killed more than 2 million people globally and altered the lives of billions. The rapidly mutated virus is keeping scientists across the globe up at night and in the latest worrying development, the head of the UK’s generic surveillance program has said that the Kent mutant strain will soon become the world’s most dominant strain. Speaking exclusively to the BBC, Professor Sharon Peacock said that the variant is dominant in the United Kingdom and is likely to sweep across the world in all probability. Now just that, Professor Peacock said that it could take at least 10 years for the world to get ahead of the virus. The variant of concern now is the one discovered in the UK. It forced the country into lockdown in December and set off alarm bells in Europe. It is now spreading rapidly in the United States and infections are doubling every 10 days. Scientists say this could become the world’s dominant strain.
More contagious, more lethal, and more dangerous, the new variant of the coronavirus that has swept across the United Kingdom might just sweep the world in all probability. What’s affected them the more at this moment is the transmissibility. Because the new virus swept the country is on the verge of sweeping the world in all probability. The head of the UK’s genetic surveillance program, professor Sharon peacock was talking about the mutated virus strain found in Britain. The variant was first found in the southeastern county of Kent. After being identified in September 2020, the variant is now found in over 50 countries. It was led to new lockdowns in the UK and a rise in global panic. This strain of coronavirus is found to be 70% more infectious and 30% more lethal. The new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group has designated it as a variant of concern.
The British advisory body is concerned about this variance’s potential to undermine the shorts. According to professor Sharon, the most concerning about this is that the 117 variants that they’ve had circulating for some weeks or months are beginning to mutate again and get new mutations which could affect the way that we handle the virus in terms of immunity and the effectiveness of vaccines. So, the professor points out that it’s concerning that this variant which is more transmissible and which has swept the country is now mutating to have this new mutation that could threaten vaccination. The Kent variant is now spreading rapidly in the United States, doubling roughly every 10 days as per the latest reports. The US center for disease control and prevention has warned that canned variant could become the dominant strain in the US by March. The findings are alarming. There are as many as a thousand different versions of the coronavirus circulating in the world.
Experts are concerned about a few. Namely, the variants detected in South Africa and Brazil. However, the Kent variant is setting off alarm bells across the World, even more so in Britain’s neighborhood. Professor Peacock highlighted another concern, the new mutation can threaten the global vaccination drives. As of now, two vaccines have been approved and are in use across the UK. The experts say that currently, both these vaccines offer sufficient protection against the existing strains but if the mutation continues at this rate then it will potentially undermine the efficacy of the shots.
This news has come from a professor who heads up a group of scientists looking at mapping the virus, the genomics of it, assessing its characteristics, looking at how it’s changing over time and that warning that it may sweep the globe, sounds pretty bad but this seems to be something that scientists were expecting when it comes to a virus itself. They were expecting these kinds of changes as the virus passes through many millions of people around the globe day after day and changes will happen within it as a case of the survival of the fittest mentality with the virus.
“The experts tell us that the mutated virus could gain the upper hand over the previous one and that’s why the period between now and mid-March is very essential. Certain measures will remain in place, which also applies until the 15th of March.” – Angel A Merkel, the German chancellor.
It is not unexpected that new variants have developed. All viruses mutate as they make copies of themselves to spread and thrive but some can be more infectious and threatening. So, will the vaccines work? Current vaccines were designed around earlier versions of the virus, but scientists believe that they should still work against new ones. What they know is that the vaccine is effective. As they strongly believe that it is effective against severe disease and that important and hence the experts say that it’s a good reason to get vaccinated. All the quibbles about whether how infectious you might be or whether it might be a bit less infectious effective against the minor disease, shouldn’t stop people from getting vaccinated as that’s going to stop them from getting killed by this disease.
What is being done about the new threat?
Scientists around the world are on the lookout for all emerging variants. Vaccine makers are already working on updating the existing shots. The British government has announced a deal with biopharma company, Curvac to develop vaccines against future strains. The FDA is closely monitoring the new mutations. We do know that the 117, the one that is the UK as it were the one that we’re concerned that over the next month or so, it might become dominant. If you look at the antibodies that are induced by the vaccines that we use, they do very well in vitro in the test tube against the B117 variant. New variants will emerge, but every new emergence doesn’t imply public health crisis. Different strains have different impacts. Along with the findings of the observation, the mechanisms to deal with the new crisis will develop with time and so will the medication, for better or worse.