New concerns over vaccine efficiency are raising as the UK reports new cases of South African variant, the deadliest mutated strain of coronavirus. The testing started at the start of this month where initial cases were found and the local teams are going to every door, trying to identify infected people especially those without symptoms. With 15 new cases, the total number of cases infected with the mutated virus has reached 217, to this day.
There is a high suspicion of another coronavirus variant that has never seen before after 42 people are identified with a mysterious mutated virus. Although it has the exact same E484K mutation which is seen in the South African variant failing to comply with natural or vaccine-induced immunity.
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Nearly 38 cases of B.1.525 strain are confirmed and the health authorities are also analyzing four different and unidentified samples. These viruses are not currently released as new variants and a decision will be made after the investigation completes.
All of these variants are randomly dispersed and not associated with any viral hotspot or has cluster cases reported. In fact, no more than two cases have been reported from the same locality, which makes it difficult to trace the sources of these mutated strains.
The new B.1.525 coronavirus variant was first seen in the country in the middle of December. The UK is currently offering the most extensive testing facility than any other country mainly because it is battling through so many new variants together. The new variants are also spotted in other countries including Canada, Denmark, and the US but their cases are more common in the UK than in all of these countries. Besides, none of these countries are a part of the red list of the UK, which raises questions of how did this virus reach there.
This news of new variants all over the UK may affect the lockdown restrictions and extending them. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will be sharing the new roadmap for pandemic management didn’t acknowledge the high prevalence of mutated strains especially the South African variant in the UK.
Although the vaccines are here to save people from this deadly pandemic, this introduction of new variants raises questions to the vaccine efficacy, because these vaccines were designed according to the original coronavirus which was identified one year ago. It took nearly one year to develop the vaccines against the novel coronavirus and no one really thought about mutations that may hit soon.
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Now that many countries have started their vaccination programs, the appearance of mutated variants has started a hot debate, discussing whether or not the vaccines will protect from these new variants. Some studies have found AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine mild to moderately helpful against the mutated strains especially the South African variant in the UK, and the pharma company has shared their plans of modifying the vaccine, making it effective against the new mutations.
Unless the modified vaccines here launched, there are lesser chances to control the spread of mutated strains, using preventive measures and testing alone.