United Kingdom discovered a new strain of COVID-19 putting it back into a state of lockdown. Initial evidence suggests that the mutant virus is more infectious. However, it is unlikely to impact the effect of the vaccines.
After UK became the first country to start vaccination, a new strain of COVID-19 developed, raising alarm among the government machinery. UK authorities have also noted a sharp increase in the COVID cases in southeast England and London. Subsequently, authorities put plans on hold to ease the lockdown restrictions during the festive season. Instead, the government imposed the strictest lockdown to curb the virus spread, confining millions to their homes.
Mutations in general, are not uncommon given that the coronavirus has mutated once or twice every month since its genetic code was sequenced in January 2019. However, the newly discovered variant has 20+ mutations which calls for concern. According to sources, the new variant caused a rise in cases due to a change in its spike protein. This spike protein is central to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines recently approved in the UK and US.
However, a change in the spike protein may not hinder the workings of these two vaccines. According to experts, a single mutation rarely has the ability to change how the virus attacks humans. For the virus to evade our immunity, it must undergo a series of mutations. Moreover, for a single mutation, vaccines update to tackle those changes with certain tweaks. Research also suggests that a 60% immunised population can reduce the mutating scope of the virus.
India’s vaccine strategy is unlikely to be impacted as the shots as the shots are effective against the new strains of the virus. Even if re-infections occur, they would have milder symptoms. The vaccines studied in India have the spike protein and other components which can maintain their efficiency. However, experts advise people to continue wearing their masks. All social-distancing protocols and hand-hygiene must be followed.