What we know about the new coronavirus strain

We had a while to investigate the coronavirus, but it also had time to investigate us.
A new mutant strain is spreading rapidly in the south-east of England, raising fears of escalation, just as the vaccine breakthroughs gave hope.
Experts assure that there is no evidence that this new strain is any more deadly.
But it could be up to 70% more contagious, increasing the "R" rate - or how much it spreads - by 0.4.
Faster spread means more cases and, inevitably, more deaths.
It was first seen in the UK in September.
By early December, 62% of cases in London were due to the new variant.
Much is unknown about the strain, but experts are confident that current vaccines should continue to be effective.
The vaccines target different areas of the virus - including the important and distinctive shape of the protein tip.
The new variant contains 23 changes to the original.
But many of these relate to how it attaches to and enters cells.
Julian Tang is a virologist at the University of Leicester.
"So people must have looked at this N501Y mutation, looked at where the mutation occurred, and tried to predict how much that would have changed the shape of the protein. And it seems like they figured out that, in fact, they didn't will change so much. The antibodies against the S-protein induced by the vaccine should still bind to it and protect you against the virus with the vaccines available. "
Experts warn that future coronavirus mutations will remain unknown.
Influenza and HIV have continuously mutated and defied vaccines over the years.
The key is to slow the spread of a virus before it can adapt too radically.
“If enough mutations come across this S-protein in the next 12 months, like in the flu, you may have to tweak the vaccine a little to adapt it to the new virus. You might see a few more new mutations in a year that could affect the vaccine. "
While the new strain was also discovered in Australia, Italy, and the Netherlands, it appears to be most dominant in southern England, causing numerous countries to close their borders to British travelers.
It was first discovered through genomic surveillance by Public Health England.
The UK reportedly has some of the best global analysis of mutations.
It may only be possible to display what is already available in other countries.
Video transcript
- We had a while to investigate the coronavirus, but it also had time to investigate us. A new mutant strain is spreading rapidly in the south-east of England, raising fears of escalation, just as the vaccine breakthroughs gave hope.
Experts assure that there is no evidence that this new strain is more deadly, but it could be up to 70% more contagious and increase the R-rate or spread by 0.4. Faster spread means more cases and, inevitably, more deaths. It was first seen in the UK in September. By early December, 62% of cases in London were due to the new variant.
Much is unknown about the strain, but experts are confident that current vaccines should continue to be effective. The vaccines target different areas of the virus, including the important and distinctive shape of the protein tip. The new variant contains 23 changes to the original. But many of these relate to how it attaches to and enters cells.
Julian Tang is a virologist at the University of Leicester.
JULIAN TANG: People must have been looking at this N501Y mutation and looking where the mutation occurred and trying to predict how much that would have changed the protein shape. And they probably just - it sounds like they found out it won't change that that much. Therefore, the antibodies against the S protein induced by the vaccine should continue to bind to it and protect you from the virus with existing vaccines.
- Experts warn that future mutations of the coronavirus will remain unknown. Influenza and HIV have continuously mutated and defied vaccines over the years. The key is to slow the spread of a virus before it can adapt too radically.
While the new strain was also discovered in Australia, Italy and the Netherlands, it appears to be the most dominant in southern England, causing numerous countries to close their borders to British travelers. It was first discovered through Public Health England's Genomics Surveillance. The UK reportedly has some of the best global analysis of mutations. You may only be able to see what is already there in other countries.

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