SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7:
Coronavirus pandemic has already hampered millions of lives in the country. Many people were laid down from their jobs due to a lack of business as the country encountered a complete lockdown. People were hoping 2021 will be a sigh of relief due to potential vaccine candidates round the corner. However, things have changed, and we have encountered a totally new Coronavirus variant B.1.1.7. With its origin tracing down to the United Kingdom, this new virus seems to show high transmissibility than the original COVID-19 virus. The higher transmission rate makes it uncontrollable and more people are getting the infection. Tracing and isolation of people who came in contact with the COVID-19 infected patient are becoming more difficult.
This virus has mutated 17 times in one go, which was not seen before in the case of any virus. Most of the mutations are present in the spike protein of the virus. This virus is spreading in the United Kingdom and has resulted in complete lockdown. Most of the flights have been cancelled from the UK. Still, we have more than 30 infected cases in the country with this new UK virus mutant.
Is this virus more dangerous?
To arrive at this decision, a lot of research is being carried out to study and characterize the mutations present in this new UK variant. The mutated variant of the virus is spreading in different areas of the UK, and through the passengers coming from the UK, it has entered our country. Most people have been traced with this new variant and have been kept in separate isolation rooms. The particular mutations called N501Y, and P681H (cleavage site) cause concern as these mutations promote the virus’s entry into the human cells, thereby making it more contagious. There are not many reports supporting that the severity of this mutant variant is on the higher side. However, there are chances this mutant may not be detected in an individual having COVID-19. Coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 is the single variant that carries both these mutations.
What about COVID-19 Vaccines?
The country is carrying the dry run of the indigenously made vaccines in different states. With this new variant coming along, whether the vaccine would be effective against this new virus mutant? The answer as per reports is Yes; the vaccines under development would be effective and can help eliminate the virus from the body. Some vaccines have also been approved for emergency use authorization. Still, a long road needs to be covered so that the COVID-19 vaccine vaccinates every individual.
With the world witnessing the new UK mutant of coronavirus, precautions and other advisory measures remain the same. We should keep on wearing masks and follow social distancing norms as per the local health authorities’ guidelines. Travel only when required, and avoid unnecessary movement. Washing hands with soap and water and using alcohol-based sanitizer are other necessary measures to go as we follow from the initiation of this virus in the country. Avoid touching hands on our face unless there is an absolute necessity. We should always get tested on time whenever we feel the symptoms of COVID-19 are accumulating in us. Timely testing could help to prevent many lives.