The SARS-CoV-2 mutation now rapidly spreading across England’s South East is potentially up to 70% more infectious than its predecessor—but not necessarily more dangerous, according to a new analysis published by the European CDC.
Several countries have closed their doors to British travelers. And while data remains scarce on how far the variant has spread, cases involving the same strain have now been found in Australia, Reuters reports.
A similar variant—also thought to be more contagious—has cropped up in South Africa and is driving a significant new wave of cases among young, otherwise healthy individuals, IOL reports.
Keep in mind: Virus mutations are to be expected, public health experts note that there’s currently no reason to believe that existing COVID-19 vaccines won’t work against these variants.
The British variant includes alternations in the viral genetic code that suggest the strain could be less vulnerable to antibodies, raising concern about whether it could render vaccines ineffective, The New York Times reports. But experts caution that that would take years, not months.
And, as South African scientists have stressed, this recent rapid-fire transmission may not just be down to mutations but human behavior.
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