Recently, a new strain of the coronavirus has been discovered in the southeastern part of England in the United Kingdom. According to reports on the strain, it may be even more contagious and has been linked to over a thousand new cases of the infection. Although the investigation by both New Health England and the World Health Organization is ongoing, there is no evidence to show that the new strain is deadlier.
On the fourteenth of December, Matt Hancock, who is the health secretary of the UK, announced the discovery of the new strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is rapidly spreading specifically in South England. Ever since then, there has been widespread panic and fear with the majority of people assuming that this means the risk of a severe infection is higher than before.
The discovery of a new strain of a specific pathogen means that it has undergone one or more mutations. As a result, there are changes either in the way it transmits from one person to another or in the way it affects the immune system.
Usually, mutations and new strains are found using genetic sequencing. During an outbreak or an epidemic, the procedure is done in order to keep track of any changes in the pathogen so that its potential outcome on infected people can be known.
While looking out for new strains is important, it does not necessarily mean that they are always a cause of worry or they make a virus deadlier. Mutations are natural and happen every now and then. Many times, they also make no difference to the way the virus spreads or infects people.
Generally, there have been very few instances where a virus has become deadlier after undergoing mutations. In the newly discovered strain of SARS-CoV-2, a mutation has occurred in the spikes of the virus, which means that they may impact its mobility.
At most, this will only make the virus spread quicker than before. However, this does not mean that the virus is more powerful now or that the new vaccinations that have been approved in the past week will no longer be able to protect from it.
Although little is known about the new strain, it is highly unlikely that it will make a difference in terms of the severity of the infection but health experts are still recommending people to stay as cautious as they did before and follow guidelines for prevention.
In the upcoming weeks, holiday celebrations are expected to increase the transmission of the virus due to large gatherings of people at dinners and parties. No matter what the circumstances are, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention suggests people wear a mask at all times.
In addition, maintaining physical distance, avoiding indoor spaces, washing hands, or using a sanitizer frequently are also important steps in preventing the coronavirus infection.
Keep in mind that all people should follow these guidelines including those who have been infected before and recovered, healthy adults, and people who have been vaccinated as well.