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What is known (and what is not) about the new variant of the UK coronavirus already circulating in the US

A new variant of the coronavirus, first found in the UK, was detected in the first US patient this week.

The strain, dubbed B.1.1.7, has raised concern from health experts, who describe it as potentially more infectious than the original virus exported from #Wuhan, #China, in early 2020.

#Several countries have restricted the entry of travelers from the #United #Kingdom, while inspecting in detail if the new strain is circulating within their borders and clarifying the underlying doubts about its dangerousness.

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#Variant B.1.1.7 is still under study, since scientists need to complete a series of experiments (including laboratory tests with animals and tissues), to clear up the questions that remain.

#Although science has yet to answer many questions about the new strain, we explain what the experts do know to date:

#Is it a supervirus?


#It is just one more variant of many that have emerged from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as the virus was exported around the world from #China.

#It is very common for viruses to mutate.

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“#When they cause an infection, they enter our cells and take over the cell to make more copies of themselves to reproduce, and each time they do, a new set of genetic material is created for each new virus,” he told our sister network NBC #News #Simon #Clarke, associate professor of cell microbiology at the #University of #Reading in the UK.

#How and when did this new variant originate?

#Regarding the origin, the most likely explanation that scientists have given so far is that this variant arose in a patient with a weakened immune system, who could not defeat the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

#On the contrary, the body of this individual would have become fertile soil for the virus to mutate.

[La nueva mutación del coronavirus puede colapsar los hospitales en Estados Unidos]

#Although it came to the researchers’ attention in #December, when it appeared most frequently in samples from parts of southern #England, some samples had been collected since #September.

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#Why is it causing concern?

#Fundamentally, because some of the mutations of this new variant have already been shown in the laboratory to increase the ability of the virus to infect cells.

#What this characteristic has led scientists to think is that it can be spread more easily, although there is no absolute certainty, as a deeper investigation takes more time.

#Another reason why there is still no certainty is that the fact that a virus becomes more common may simply be due to the fact that the city where it spreads is more populated than others, making transmission easier.

#Does it make the symptoms of sick people worse?

There is no solid scientific evidence to say yes or no.

#However, at least in #South #Africa another variant of the coronavirus with a particular mutation that is also found in B.1.1.7. found in preliminary studies that infected people had a high viral load.

#In many viral diseases, a higher concentration of the virus in the upper respiratory tract is associated with more severe symptoms.

#Is it more deadly?

There is no evidence to suggest that it is, although individuals like this are still being investigated.

The #Centers for #Disease #Control and #Prevention (CDC) did express concern #Wednesday about a possibility of further hospitalizations.

[Vacunar contra el COVID-19 al público general en Estados Unidos tomará 10 años al ritmo actual]

“#Because the variants spread more rapidly, they could lead to more cases and put even more pressure on our already overstretched healthcare systems,” said #Dr. #Henry #Walke, CDC’s COVID-19 #Incident #Manager.

#How fast is it spreading?

A handful of countries have confirmed cases of the new variant, including #Australia, #Denmark, #Italy, #Iceland and the #Netherlands.

#Scientists say regarding the rate of spread that it is difficult to determine which part is the responsibility of the virus and what part of people’s behavior.

#Professor #Erik #Volz, from #Imperial #College #London, said in mid-December that this variant is up to 70% more transmissible.

#To get an idea, based on the example of the UK, it was first detected there in #September. #By #November, about a quarter of the cases in #London were of the new variant. #And by #December, it accounted for nearly two-thirds of cases, according to data cited by BBC health correspondent #James #Gallagher.

#Is it the first time that the coronavirus has mutated?


The virus that was first detected in #Wuhan is not the same one that will be found in most of the countries to which it was exported.

#For example, the D614G mutation was found in #Europe in #February and became the globally dominant form of the virus.

#Another, called A222V, has also circulated in #Europe and has been linked to people who went on vacation to #Spain during the summer.

#Will vaccines approved for emergency use work against the new variant?

#Scientists believe that vaccines that have been approved for emergency use will continue to be effective against the variant, but are continuing to research to confirm this.

#Vaccines induce broad immune system responses, in addition to prompting the immune system to produce antibodies against the virus. #For this reason, they are expected to continue to work, the researchers said.

#Is there a special way to protect yourself?

“Based on what we already know, (the new variant) does not alter the effectiveness of the social distancing, face masks, hand washing, hand sanitizers, and ventilation”, said on #Twitter #Dr. #Muge #Cevik, an infectious disease specialist at the #University of #St. #Andrews #School of #Medicine.

“The bottom line is that we need to suppress transmission” of the coronavirus, said WHO #Director #General #Dr. #Tedros #Adhanom #Ghebreyesus. “The more we allow it to spread, the more mutations will occur.”

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