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Covid-19 new strand in UK: Why new variant of the coronavirus causing international alarm

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 22 December 2020, 9:13 IST

Several countries have imposed travel bans to and from the UK over the new variant of the coronavirus. More than 40 countries including India have barred UK arrivals.

Though there are no definite medical results to explain the strength and effects of the new strand, health experts find it correct to take steps to contain the spread of the virus till confirmed laboratory results become available.

Is the new strand/variant spreading faster?
Again there is no definite laboratory experiments/results to put a number by which the new strand is spreading faster than its earlier stand. But one thing appears to be definite: It is much more transmissible than the existing strand and some reports suggest this number could be as high as 70 per cent.

"The amount of evidence in the public domain is woefully inadequate to draw strong or firm opinions on whether the virus has truly increased transmission," said Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, reports BBC.

Is the UK new strand/variant more deadly?
There is no medical data to support this fear but laboratory experiments are on to understand how differently the new variant targets the cells of the hosts.

How the new covid strand affects the efficacy of vaccines?
Nothing much is known about how the new covid strand found in the UK affects the working of vaccines as this requires laboratory experiments which are being carried on but the results will be available after some time only.

Where else has the new strain been detected?
The new strain has also been detected in Denmark, Australia, Italy and the Netherlands.

According to some experts, the UK uses genomic surveillance which has helped detection of the new strand, but the new strain has already spread beyond the places where it has been reported detected.

"I think we will find in the coming days that a lot of other countries will find it," Marc Van Ranst, a virologist from the Rega Institute for Medical Research in Belgium, told broadcaster VRT.

First published: 22 December 2020, 9:05 IST