A new variant of the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19 has been identified in England. Despite the statements of the British Minister of Health, it is unlikely that this mutation will have an influence on the functioning of the virus, scientists warn.
Experts are skeptical of Matt Hancock’s December 14 statement. The British Minister for Health said a new variant of the coronavirus has been identified in the south-east of England and is linked to the faster spread of the virus.
Covid-19: A new version of the virus is in England
The United Kingdom finds itself almost cut off from the world as a preventive measure. Several European countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Ireland announced Sunday, December 20, the suspension of travel from British territory, due to the circulation of a new strain of the coronavirus. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a crisis meeting on Monday.
Measures encouraged by the World Health Organization (WHO), which called on its members to “strengthen their controls” and “increase their [capacities for] sequencing [the virus before knowing more about the risks posed by this new variant] “.
Is the new strain of the coronavirus more contagious?
The main cause for concern about the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus is that it is believed to be even more contagious than the dominant strain to date in Europe. A first report from Nervtag, the group responsible for advising the British government on respiratory viruses, suggested as early as mid-December that the VUI-202012/01 variant had “a selective advantage over other variants” of the virus and experienced an “exponential growth during a period when national foreclosure measures were in place”.
Above all, the mutations of the coronavirus “relate mainly to the protein of the spikes (spicules)”, indicated the report, in other words the spikes which are on its surface of the coronavirus and allow it to attach to cells to penetrate them, thus playing a key role in viral infection.
On Tuesday, December 22, American experts began first studies on the new strain of the coronavirus and according to them, there is no evidence of a higher contagiousness. “There is no tangible evidence that this virus is indeed more contagious”, but “there is clear evidence that it is more widespread in the population,” said Moncef Slaoui, senior government program adviser. vaccination program, during a press conference.
Are the symptoms of Covid variant B.1.1.7 more serious?
The British Minister of Health indicated on December 20 that “the new strain (of coronavirus, editor’s note) was out of control”, thus justifying the containment measures imposed, but he made it clear that the work in progress had not pointed to more serious symptoms.
“There is no indication that it is more deadly or that it causes a more severe form of the disease”, also specified the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. For its part, the Nervtag, the UK advisory board, concluded that current data is insufficient to draw any conclusion on the seriousness of the new strain, estimating that “4 deaths out of around 1000 cases have been identified”, but that “d ‘more work is needed to compare this death rate with comparable data sets.
Is the vaccine less effective in the face of this mutation in Covid?
The real good news, likely to reassure the health authorities, is that it is very likely that the vaccines, already used or about to be used, are effective against the English mutation. “In terms of vaccination, there is not too much difference between these two viruses. The vaccines as they were produced should protect us”
The CEO of the BioNtech laboratory, which developed the main vaccine with Pfizer, assures that his group will be able to provide a new vaccine “in six weeks” in the event of a significant mutation of the Covid.