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Home / Technology / What we know about the novel coronavirus strain and how much you need to worry about — RT World News

What we know about the novel coronavirus strain and how much you need to worry about — RT World News



A new and more infectious strain of the Covid-19 coronavirus has spread to more countries around the world. But how is this new pathogen different? Should people prepare for the end of the world?

Ireland confirmed the presence of a new and highly contagious strain of the coronavirus on Friday, and authorities in Lebanon and Japan have also recorded the first cases attributed to the variant. In continental Europe, Germany and Denmark confirmed the existence of the strain earlier this week and joined the Netherlands and Italy.

Little is known about this new strain. The name of this new strain is commonly known as “SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01”. However, although it will definitely cause problems, it is not as instructive as some media have introduced.

Where did it come from?

It is believed that this new strain originated in the UK and was first discovered in the UK in September. It spread rapidly, and test data from British laboratories indicate that in some areas, it now accounts for more than two-thirds of all Covid-1

9 cases.

The rapid spread of the new strain prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose strict restrictions on most parts of the country, effectively canceling Christmas for millions of Londoners and others in the southeast. More than 50 countries/regions ban travel to and from the UK, but virologists predict that discoveries in new countries/regions will surge in the next few days, and the European Union calls on its member states to lift restrictions on travel to the UK.

Is there any news?

The main factor that differentiates the new strain from its predecessor is its infectivity. Although it is difficult to determine exactly how many viruses can be transmitted, Prime Minister Johnson has repeatedly claimed that the strain is more infectious than existing strains, apparently citing Imperial College London and the government’s own New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threat Advisory Group (NERVTAG) Words of the doctor. .

Because the government floated such ominous numbers, the media became speeding.The sun described this new as “Nightmare before Christmas,” The subway calls it “Mutant Covid.” The even more restrained Financial Times said that scientists “panic” Spreading “Covid mutant.”

However, there is still no evidence of increased transmissibility, and some dissenting doctors believe that there is no evidence that the new strain spreads faster. “We have not seen any evidence to support this claim,” Microbiology professor Hugh Pennington told The Scottish Sun this week. Others, including German virologist Christian Drosten, said that there is still not enough data to infer whether the new strain can actually spread.



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Some specific claims about the new strain have also emerged, for example, it is easier to spread among children. Professor Neil Ferguson of NERVTAG made this request earlier this week but added “Before drawing any conclusions, more research is needed on this matter.”

What threat does it pose?

On the surface, the idea of ​​a mutated virus may trigger an alarm. However, the previously circulating coronavirus variant of this new strain is itself a mutation of the original pathogen that appeared in Wuhan, China a year ago. After arriving in Europe in February, the virus mutated into a strain called “D614G” and then became the main strain in the world. Soon thereafter, another strain, A222V, broke out in Spain and currently accounts for 7 percent of European samples.

When “D614G” appeared, scientists warned that it might be 9 times more infectious than the Wuhan strain. Fortunately, this warning has never been proven to be true.

All viruses mutate and usually become milder.Mike Ryan, the head of emergency at the World Health Organization, said in a virtual briefing this week that this mutation is “The normal part of virus evolution.”



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Currently, there is no evidence that new variants are more lethal than existing ones. Take the United Kingdom as an example. Among the new cases reported on Thursday, Covid-19 cases exceeded 39,000, more than five times the worst day of the first wave in April. However, 574 deaths were recorded, about half of the number of days in April.

Will the vaccine prevent it?

Currently, the consensus is. However, if the virus continues to mutate, there is a danger. It will learn how to escape the three vaccines currently available in the West. Influenza viruses mutate regularly, so new influenza vaccines are released every year to deal with the latest indications of the virus.

So far, the mutation rate of the coronavirus has not been high enough to raise concerns about vaccine efficacy. Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna are currently testing vaccines against this new strain, and BioNTech, a German company that developed the vaccine with Pfizer, said this week that it can produce a new formulation within six weeks if necessary.

However, in theory, the virus may continue to mutate and be one step ahead of vaccine developers. “This virus may be on its way to escape the vaccine, and it has taken the first step in this direction.” Cambridge University professor Ravi Gupta told the BBC. “If we let it add more variation, then you start to worry.”



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Even with the threat of further mutations, British scientists are still experimenting with an experimental mixture of antibodies that they say can prevent anyone exposed to the coronavirus from continuing to develop Covid-19. The therapy was developed by University College London Hospital and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and is expected to bring immediate immunity to anyone exposed to the pathogen. On the other hand, the vaccine may take up to a month to be fully immunized.

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