What Scientists Know About the Coronavirus Variant Spreading In the UK


    An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: Several European countries have banned flights from the U.K. over fears about a new coronavirus variant that has forced millions of people in Britain to cancel their Christmas plans. Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Italy all announced restrictions on U.K. travel. Others will likely follow suit as scientists warned that the new strain spreads more quickly than its predecessor. […] U.K. health officials first identified the new variant, which British scientists have called “VUI — 202012/01,” in mid-September, Maria Van Kerkhove, the Covid-19 technical lead for the World Health Organization, told the BBC on Sunday. Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, warned in a statement Saturday that it the virus considered to be spreading more quickly. But he said there was no evidence so far to suggest that the new strain is more potent in terms of severe illness or death. “Our working assumption from all the scientists is that the vaccine response should be adequate for this virus,” Patrick Vallance, the U.K. government’s chief scientific adviser, said at a news briefing Saturday. But Ravindra Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said he was concerned that the virus is on a pathway to become resistant to vaccines. “Whilst it may not be actually resistant, it may not take so many changes after this for it to get there,” he said. However, Clarke said that different versions of flu vaccines are required every year and that he did not see why it could not be the same for the coronavirus. The report notes that the new variant “has so far been identified in Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia,” adding that more sequencing that can be done will be helpful to determine if this variant is circulating elsewhere. Gupta said the new strain should be cause for concern in the U.S. and other countries. Warning that the virus could mutate again, he said, “people need to step up their surveillance.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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