A new strain of coronavirus has been identified that is growing rapidly in some parts of England, MPs have been told.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at least 60 local authorities had recorded Covid infections caused by the new variance.
WHO Has Been Notified
He said the World Health Organization had been notified and UK scientists were conducting extensive research.
He said there was “no indication” that it could cause serious illness or that the vaccine would no longer work.
He told MPs in the House of Commons that last week, there was a significant increase in coronavirus infections in London, Kent, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire.
“So far we have received more than 1,000 cases of this very common condition in the South of England although cases have been identified in about 60 areas of local authorities.
“We do not know how much of this is due to new differences but for whatever reason we should take immediate and decisive action which unfortunately is very important to control this deadly disease while the vaccine is being released.”
The ‘New Form’
The Chief Medical Officer of England Prof Chris Whitty said the current test for the coronavirus swab would look at the very differences found in Kent and surrounding areas in recent weeks.
Mutations or changes include the virus spike protein – a component that contributes to cell infection, and the intended Covid vaccine is developed around it.
It is very early to know exactly what this will do to the behavior of the virus.
Professor Alan McNally, a professor at the University of Birmingham, told the BBC: “Let’s not get mad. It doesn’t mean it’s very contagious or contagious or dangerous.
“It’s something to keep in mind.
“Great efforts are being made to differentiate and understand its origins. It is important to keep a calm and reasonable view of the difficulties as this is a common occurrence of the virus and we expect new alternatives to come and emerge over time.”
What Are Experts Saying?
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said it could be very bad. “Analysis and research must continue and we must take the necessary steps to continue to be protected from the virus.”
There is a simple rule of thumb to understand all “new” or “new variants”: Ask if the behavior of the virus has changed.
This is important as viruses are constantly changing, which is what they do. And so far we have been given “panic” but not “answer”.
Matt Hancock said the new species of coronavirus “might be associated” with a rapid spread in the southeast of England.
This is not the same as saying he was “causing” an increase and Mr Hancock did not say that the virus had evolved from person to person easily.
New strains can become more common for non-viral reasons.
Another explanation for the emergence of the “Spanish genre” in the summer was tourism.
So at the moment there are scary topics everywhere, but still there are no scientific details to know how important this is.
Prof Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology at Nottingham University, said: “Genetic information in many viruses can change very quickly and sometimes these mutations can help the virus – by allowing it to transmit properly or evacuate vaccines or treatments -, but many mutations have no effect at all.
“Although a new genetic mutation has emerged and is spreading in many parts of the UK and around the world, this could happen by accident.
“Therefore, it is important that we study any genetic mutations as they occur, to determine how they affect the viral organism, and to do that important task before it is too late to make any claims about the potential implications of mutation.”