New Variant of COVID-19: a grave menace
January 08, 2021
On 22 December 2020, a perilous situation emerged in the UK. Samples were obtained from two patients who suffered from COVID-19-symptoms. Upon specimen’s analyzation, astonishing facts were revealed out. What was unique in these Coronavirus isolations that raise the concern?
What was noteworthy about it is that although the recovered sample was of coronavirus, but it came with a disturbing mutation to it! What does it mean?
Unfortunately, the coronavirus mutated itself or in simple words changed its form to some extent that is potentially harmful. Additionally, the increased transmissibility pattern of this virus was explained by its genomic studies, which further highlighted its danger. It has been found that the new variant is 70% more transmissible than the previous circulating form of the virus.
When the researcher’s poured grain vision into its origin, it becomes clear that in September 2020, this variant represented just one in four new diagnoses of COVID-19, whereas, by mid-December, this had increased to almost two-thirds of new cases in London. Considering this, the tier 4 system was implemented in the UK, which meant all non-essential shops and gyms closed, and people were asked to stay at home wherever possible.
However, during a month lockdown in November followed by the tier four implementation it became clear that the coronavirus spread, and cases surged in some parts of Great Britain instead of dampening because of strain-specific transmission.
On Dec 30, 2020, Boris Johnson the prime minister of the UK in response to surging numbers of new diagnoses including an all-time high of 53, 000 on Dec 29, 2020, decided to move all parts of England into tier 3 or 4.
New Variant and Why did it spread faster?
Mutations in SARS-CoV-2 are common: over 4,000 mutations have been detected in the spike glycoprotein alone, according to the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium.
The whole-genome sequencing data revealed the mutation regions and named the new strain as following:
Variant of Concern 202012/01 (VOC-202012/01, also known as lineage B.1.1.7 or 20B/501Y.V1)
The VOC-202012/01 variant is defined by 23 mutations: 13 non-synonymous mutations, 4 deletions, and 6 synonymous mutations.
There is a lack of data and it’s overrated to say that this virus is more powerful in terms of mortality and severity. However, one thing is clear, that faster transmissibility is linked with this strain.
The increase in transmissibility is due to its mutation at the spike protein. The spike proteins are at the surface of coronavirus that initiate’s attachment with the human cells.
How the Government of the UK is coping with the situation right now:
- The Government announced a sudden change in strategy—all primary schools in London were told not to reopen as planned on Jan 4, 2021.
- Two vaccines Pfizer-BioNTech and the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine are approved, and the health authorities are working hard to ensure mass vaccinations are carried out.
- Another key-policy is to adopt a two-dose schedule instead of a single dose.
- Individual role to minimize the virus spread is also advocated.
- Vulnerable people group, homeless person’s accommodation with resourceful support.
- The whole country has been moved to tier 4 category (tougher restrictions)
In general, all virus mutates at regular intervals. The studies depicted that this variation was traced back to September 2020, when the virus was circulating at very low levels in the population. Furthermore, national restrictions ensured the viruses spread wouldn’t be impossible to control, that finally lead scientists to look in-depth all about it which revealed another major threat form. So, to dampen the growing magnitude and severity, everyone must play their role in minimizing the spread of the virus.