A new variant of coronavirus has been found to grow faster in some parts of England, British MPs said.
This comes at a time when the British capital London will be placed under the harshest level 3 blockade early on Wednesday to control the spread of the virus. The blockade will be imposed even if the UK has started mass vaccinations for existing COVID-19.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at least 60 different local authorities had registered COVID-19 infections caused by the new variant, the BBC reported on Monday.
He said the World Health Organization had been notified and scientists in the UK were conducting detailed studies. He said there was “nothing to suggest” that would cause more serious illness or that the vaccines would no longer work.
The official told MPs in the House of Commons that there had been sharp and exponential increases in coronavirus infections in London, Kent, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire over the past week.
“We have now identified over 1,000 cases with this variant predominantly in the south of England, although cases have been identified in almost 60 different areas of local authorities.
“We do not know to what extent this is due to the new variant, but regardless of its cause, we must take swift and decisive action, which unfortunately is absolutely essential to control this deadly disease while the vaccine is being launched.”
The medical director of England, Prof. Chris Whitty, said that current coronavirus tamponade tests will detect the new variant that has been found mainly in Kent and neighboring areas in recent weeks.
The changes or mutations involve the top protein of the virus – the part that helps it infect cells, and COVID-19 target vaccines are designed around it.
It is too early to know exactly what this will do to the behavior of the virus.
Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome, said it is potentially serious. “Surveillance and research must continue and we must take the necessary steps to stay ahead of the virus,” he said.