A rising wave of COVID-19 cases in the south of England has been blamed on a new variant of the coronavirus. The new version, which appeared by September, is now behind half the cases in the region. With sixteen million people under the new severe tier 4 restrictions, what is the new strain and is it as deadly as experts are warning?
Leading researcher of the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology Fyodor Lisitsyn has urged residents not to panic due to the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus.
According to Fyodor, the fact that upon an infection with the new strain the coronavirus symptoms are manifested earlier may positively influence the spread of the infection.
He said in an interview: “One shouldn’t panic too much because of this new strain.
“When its properties are researched, we don’t even know for sure even, so far this is hot information, it might be confirmed or not.
“On the other hand, this is a rapid coronavirus, and its shortcoming has its advantages the fact that with [its] more rapid spread the symptoms are displayed sooner.”
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Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London added: “Since the beginning of this, we’ve seen mutations occur all over the world, many thousands of them, but this one has more mutations than any variant we’ve seen before.
“Some of these mutations were “at the kind of business end of the virus, that bind onto human cells.
“It really does seem to account for the uncontrollability that we’ve seen in London and the South East in recent months.
“However, owing to the variety of neutralising antibodies induced by the main vaccine frontrunners, it was unlikely that the new strain would be resistant to inoculation.”
“What we do know is that this new variant not only moves fast, it is increased in its ability to transmit, but it’s becoming the dominant variant,” Professor Whitty said.
“It is beating all the others in terms of transmission.
“Yet there’s no evidence it causes a more severe disease, more hospitalizations or more trouble than the other virus.
“While there are reasons to suspect the new variant might alter someone’s immune response to the disease, there’s nothing to indicate that’s the case so far.”
King’s College researchers warn of potential symptoms of this new strand of coronavirus to look out for which include:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pains
- Confusion (delirium)
- Skin rash.
“If you develop any symptoms that might be COVID-19, don’t take a risk – you and your household must isolate immediately and ideally get a test as soon as possible,” advises the King’s College researchers.