Reports came during this weekend that the new variant of the novel coronavirus from UK (London) is 56% more transmissible than other variants in existence. Yes you read it right, there are more than 2 variants of COVID-19 causing virus. The SARS-CoV2 virus’ new variants are found in England, South Africa, Nigeria and Wales.
Regional director of WHO-Europe said that the variant from England- code named VOC 202012/01 is present in 8 European countries, and it seems to be spreading among younger age groups unlike previous strains. He underlined that vigilance is important while research is ongoing to define its impact.
UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed earlier this week that the South African variant codenamed 501.v2 poses serious hazards than the UK variant. However this was later withdrawn according to Yahoo News.
South Africa’s Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize said that 501.v2 wields the same transmissibility of the UK Variant, and does not cause higher level of damages, as claimed by the UK. Unlike the UK variant this one is found only in South Africa so far.
Meanwhile, a new variant was discovered in Nigeria. “It’s a separate lineage from the UK and the South African lineages,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told an online news conference from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On the other hand, the Welsh variant – codenamed 501Y is found only in Wales, UK.
Scientists have stated that the new variants, especially the UK’s version, will have higher levels of transmissibility but have not concluded about its severity. Though all the passengers from these countries are being scanned, the threat is not over.
What we know now is that only the year is ending, the pandemic is still going on. The vaccine is around the corner but it is going to take time to reach us. The virus on the other hand, whether it is the old or new one, is fast enough to reach our doors, and it is still an undeniable threat. Prevalence of virus means continuance of protocols, social distancing and hygiene practices.
We should not give away the safety measures at any cost. 2021 will see reopening of cinema, stadiums, parks and many other public places. The safety measures we were forced to follow earlier became a routine and it kept us safe. Thinking of dropping that now (because of news about vaccine) should never arise, as the virus is not terminated completely. This pandemic continue and we need to be vigil.