A new strain of Covid-19 is causing a lot of panic worldwide as it continues to spread rapidly across the UK. The new variant has mostly been found across the southeast of England, particularly in London and Kent. This has forced the government to enforce a slew of stricter restrictions with an additional Tier 4 lockdown, bringing down the mood of millions of people during the holidays.
The new variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus has been termed “VUI–202012/01” or lineage B.1.1.7. It has been found to be a lot more infectious than the older variant and hence has resulted in a sharp spike in the number of cases across the UK. While the earliest evidence of the new variant dates back to September, the spike was observed in the recent weeks after the roll-out of vaccination drives in the country. The cases related to the new variant have been reported by more than 60 local authorities in England.
Are the symptoms caused by the new Covid strain different?
It is too early to say it with certainty if the new Covid strain will cause any symptoms different from that caused by the older variant. So far the new strain is believed to have not resulted in different symptoms. The primary symptoms remain the same which includes a continuous cough, chest pains, fever, a loss of taste and smell, aches and chills.
Is the new Covid strain more dangerous?
Based on the observations so far, the authorities believe that the new Covid strain is 70 per cent more infectious than the previous strains, which makes it more dangerous. One is more likely to catch the new virus than was the case with the older strains.
Researchers also say that the new variant may attack the immune system faster and more severely than previous strains.
Is it more difficult to diagnose?
So far there is not enough evidence to say that the new strain would be more difficult to diagnose. The treatment also remains similar to that in case of older strain and medical experts continue to rely on symptomatic treatment.
Will the vaccines work against the new Covid strain?
It is too early to say conclusively at this point since the inoculations have just begun in the UK. The effectiveness of the vaccines would have to be judged on a new sample population and inferences could be drawn only at a later point of time.