New COVID-19 Strain in UK: Is It More Dangerous? Do Vaccines Work?
Hours after United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the new strain of coronavirus spreading in the country is 70 percent more infectious than the original, a growing list of European countries have started to close their borders with the country.
The new strain is named VUI-202012/01 (the first “Variant Under Investigation” in December 2020) and is defined by a set of 17 changes or mutations. Changes in this part of spike protein may, in theory, result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people.
According to a BBC report, three factors are causing concern over the new variant of COVID-19:
- It is said to spread faster than the other versions – 70 percent more infectious
- It is the most common version of the virus in the UK
- There have been changes to the spike protein of the virus, which plays a key role in unlocking the doorway to the body’s cells
Does this mean the variant is more dangerous?
There is no evidence to support this yet. However, the increase in rate of transmission means more people could get infected than before and this leads to an added burden on an already strained healthcare system, with more people needing hospital treatment.
Susan Hopkins, joint medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England, said:
“There is currently no evidence that this strain causes more severe illness, although it is being detected in a wide geography, especially where there are increased cases being detected.”