South African strain of Covid found in Birmingham

Henrietta Brewer
February 4, 2021

Recent tests show that there's already mutation in the Covid-19 strain identified as E484K, which was first detected in South Africa.

United Kingdom health secretary Matt Hancock has appealed to thousands of residents in eight districts in England not to go out to buy food, but to eat what they already have in the house instead, in an effort to curb the spread of the Covid-19 variant that was first identified in South Africa.

England has launched mass testing of 80,000 inhabitants in these districts in an attempt to find those infected with the Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa.

Possibly, there may be more occurrences that have not yet been discovered. The Liverpool area has seen 32 cases of original coronavirus that have the E484K mutation too.

Dr Julian Tang, honorary Associate Professor/Clinical Virologist at the University of Leicester, said the acquisition of the E484K mutation is "a worrying development, though not entirely unexpected." .

He added that it was essential people "follow the lockdown rule" and get COVID-19 cases down to avoid "opportunities for the virus to mutate further". Notably, the spike protein is also the part of the virus targeted by Covid-19 vaccines and antibody treatments.

Scientists have already been checking what these new mutations might mean for existing coronavirus vaccines that were designed around earlier versions of the virus that started the pandemic.

Early testing by Moderna found that its vaccine could protect against the mutation, although the effects may not be as strong or last as long.

The council said it will ramp up testing in a bid to "monitor and suppress" the new variant, which is believed to be more contagious.

But the European Union commission chief defended the slower Covid-19 vaccine in the EU, telling French newspaper Le Monde: "The commission and the member states agreed not to compromise on the safety and effectiveness requirements linked to the authorisation of a vaccine".

According to experts, even the worst-case scenario, vaccines can be reformed and tweaked "to better match in a matter of weeks or months", if needed.

Prof Ravi Gupta from the University of Cambridge said: "This gives us a sign that it has certain favoured routes - and we can work to block those off with a vaccine".

Measures such as washing your hands, keeping your distance from other people and wearing a face covering will still help prevent infections.

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