UK’s new strain of coronavirus

Recently, the United Kingdom has identified a new variant of coronavirus other than the existing strains. As per the UK, it is 70% more transmissible than the existing strains.  The new variant has been named B.1.1.7.

Key Points related to new variant- B.1.1.7

  • The coronavirus has seen many changes since its detection. But, the new variant B.1.1.7 has a large number of genetic changes according to the preliminary genomic characterization.
  • The changes are particularly in the spike protein which is often responsible for how the virus interacts with a human cell.
  • The number of cases due to new variant is increasing in the UK, which has forced many countries to put travel restrictions on the country.
  • As per the UK government officials, the new variant could be more transmissible than the existing variants.
  • As per the former President of the British Society for Immunology, Peter Openshaw, the variant is about 40-70% more transmissible.

Will the new variant affect the test results?

One of the mutations in B.1.1.7 deletes six bases in the viral genome which encode amino acids 69 and 70 of the spike protein. In some of the PCR tests, it is used as one of the three genomic targets. So, in such tests, this channel will show negative on the new variant.

What will be the impact of B.1.1.7 on the vaccination?

As of now, the scientists don’t see any major effect of B.1.1.7 on the vaccination and treatment process.

New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), the advisory body of the UK has also released a paper in this regard.

Although no major effect has been found till now still extra care must be taken.