Everything you need to know about new coronavirus variant
The coronavirus vaccine started rolling out in the UK last week, but now a new variant of Covid-19 has been found, sparking new fears.
The new variant of coronavirus has been growing faster in some parts of England.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that more than 1,000 cases of the new variant have been found “predominantly in the south of England”.
Researchers are currently investigating the new strain, but here is everything we know so far.
What is the new coronavirus variant and should we be worried?
The new variant of coronavirus is a mutation of the existing strain – but it is believed it may be spreading faster.
It is believed is may be fuelling the “very sharp, exponential rises” in cases across the South East.
However, Mr Hancock added: “We do not know the extent to which this is because of the new variant.”
The Sars-Cov-2 virus that caused Covid-19 is always mutating, and Professor Alan McNally of the University of Birmingham, a expert on microbial genomics, said “huge efforts” were under way to characterise the new strain and understand its origin.
He told Financial Times: “It’s important to keep a calm and rational perspective on the strain, as this is normal virus evolution and we expect new variants to come and go and emerge over time.”
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Prof McNally added that it is “too early” to be worried about the new strain.
Mr Hancock told MPs that at this point there is “currently nothing to suggest that this variant is more likely to cause serious disease and the latest clinical advice is that it’s highly unlikely that this mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine”.
However, he added that it shows “we’ve got to be vigilant”.
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Prof Julian Hiscox, Chair in Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, said: “We should be cautious and focus efforts on understanding the transmission of this virus and if necessary introducing control measures to prevent its spread.
“There is always a lag between sampling and information.
“Currently there is no evidence that this virus will evade the vaccine or will lead to increased disease or death.”
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