New coronavirus strain: What does it mean for vaccine and other FAQs decoded
After new strain making its impact on the UK, several countries have decided to shut their borders or banned flights to the UK.Image by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

New coronavirus strain: What does it mean for vaccine and other FAQs decoded

Here is all you need to know about this new strain of COVID-19

After suffering from the past ten months, the world was hopeful for vaccines to usher in a healthier 2021 but the UK on Sunday cautioned against a new strain of coronavirus.

The new strain is said to be 70 per cent more infectious and Health Secretary of the UK, Matt Hancock stated that it was “out of control”. 62 per cent of cases reported in the second week of this month in London were due to the new strain. After new strain making its impact on the UK, several countries have decided to shut their borders or banned flights to the UK.

Here is all you need to know about this new strain of COVID-19

What is this new strain?

The new strain is called VUI-202012/01 and is well-defined by a set of 17 altercations or mutations. Changes in this part of protein may result in the infection becoming more transmissible and spreading more easily among people.

How did it emerge?

The new strain of coronavirus was discovered by Public Health England’s genomic surveillance. The agency informed the UK government on December 18 on the intensity of the mutation. The UK submitted its discovery to the World Health Organisation.

The new UK variant is said to have first discovered in southeast England in September. It has since become the main form of the virus in the area. It has also been found making its mark in Belgium, Denmark, Italy and The Netherlands.

Is it more severe than the earlier COVID-19?

According to scientists, genetic changes or mutations, arise naturally in all viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, as they reproduce and mix among humans. However, a surge in transmission would be enough to cause problems for hospitals where more number of people will be getting admitted for the treatment.

Will vaccine work against new strain?

The new virus has undergone multiple mutations since it first infected humans, which scientists say is neither unanticipated nor a cause for panic. News agency PTI quoted Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Director General Shekhar Mande as saying, “It is likely that there will be differences between certain aspects like anti-bodies but it doesn’t necessarily mean that vaccines will be ineffective. Vaccines will be equally effective despite the mutation. So there is no reason to panic.”

What is India’s take on new strain?

India has also joined the list of over 15 countries who have already banned their flights to the UK. The Civil Ministry of Aviation on Monday declared that there will be no flights to the UK till December 31. The Centre also stated that as a measure of plentiful precaution, those arriving from the UK in all transit flights will mandatorily go under RT-PCR test. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government also imposed night curfew till January 5. Passengers coming from Europe and the Middle East will undergo 15 days institutional quarantine mandatorily.

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