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New coronavirus in England: should we be concerned?

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Since its appearance, Sars-CoV-2 has mutated numerous times. A new variant of the virus has recently been discovered in England. Is this strain more virulent? Is the disease likely to get worse? Can it be resistant to the Covid vaccine? Explanations.

All viruses, including Covid-19, undergo various mutations. As evidence, a new variant of Sars-CoV-2 has been detected in the UK. According to the British government, this strain has grown rapidly in parts of England in recent days.

This strain is cause for concern. Many wonder if this mutation made Covid-19 more infectious or more virulent. To understand this mutation of the virus, British scientists have opened an investigation on this new variant. Matt Hancock also said that the World Health Organization (WHO) had been informed of this discovery.

He told members of the House of Commons that an "exponential" increase in Covid-19 infections was seen last week in London, Kent and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire. According to the Health Secretary, this strain "could be associated with a more rapid spread (of the virus) in south-east England. Early analyzes suggest that this variant is spreading faster than existing variants."

According to Professor Alan McNally, an expert at the University of Birmingham, there is no evidence that this mutation made the virus more dangerous. "Lets not be hysterical. That does not mean that it is more transmissible, more contagious or more dangerous," he told the BBC.

The president of the Scientific Council, Jean-François Delfraissy, also called for caution regarding the possible consequences on the contagion and virulence of this variant of the virus. "Since March, the coronavirus has undergone multiple small mutations, but so far none of these variants have aggravated the disease. Fear is a real mutation of the Spike protein, that is, the one that allows the virus to endure. Now, the one described by the English it is about this protein, and the data suggests that the virus is more infectious. "

Can this variant of the virus reduce the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine?

"It is highly unlikely that this mutation will not respond to a vaccine, but it shows that we must be vigilant and follow the rules," said Matt Hancock. On the other hand, a "real" mutation could call into question the efficacy of the vaccine, according to Jean-François Delfraissy. "This is not the case with the English variant. But it shows that the virus must be watched closely," he stressed.

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