With Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine coming sooner than later, everyone is hoping to see the end of the coronavirus pandemic, but before the vaccine dosages can be rolled out, scientists have found a new strain of the novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom, prompting both officials and the general public to fear that the upcoming vaccine may not be able to work on the mutated virus.
New COVID-19 Mutant Strain
In a report by Business Insider, the mutated virus is dubbed the VUI 202012/01 or the Variant Under Investigation, year 2020, month 12, variant 01.
According to the news, the mutated strain is more contagious and rapidly spread throughout the UK and has been blamed for the immediate lockdown of parts of the country, leaving even other nations concerned that they imposed travel restrictions going to and from the UK.
Experts have documented 23 changes in the novel coronavirus in this particular strain, with 17 of those deemed essentially vital as they can change the virus' behavior.
Eight of these alterations are related to the COVID-19's protein spike, the part of the virus that hijacks healthy cells of the host.
Will COVID-19 Vaccines Work?
The leading COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca's vaccines, all target the virus' protein spike, so experts from the UK and the United States are reassuring the public that the dosages will still work even with the new mutated strain.
"We don't have any particular reason to think that immunizing with the present vaccines is going to be less effective against the different variants that are circulating, including [VUI 202012/01]," said Dr. Adam Finn, a professor of pediatrics at the Imperial College London, during a press briefing on Monday, December 21.
Moreover, experts are working on trying to understand the mutations more, according to Dr. Finn.
According to the professor, the scientists are working at top-secret UK laboratories such as Porton Down that research deadly diseases and chemical weapons, and that the results will be coming in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, Dr. Baharat Pankhania, a senior consultant in Communicable Disease Control at the University of Exeter said that virus variants are common and that some of them "will be in our favor, some won't."
Furthermore, they believe that the new strains do not affect COVID-19's severity.
According to USA Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that they have identified the coronavirus variant as early as September in southeastern England and that they have actually detected it as far away as Australia.
Nevertheless, some experts believe that there is not enough scientific evidence that the new COVID-19 mutation is the cause for the rapid spread of the disease in southeastern England, especially as more people are coming out more often and there is more human interaction compared to the early days of the pandemic.
As of now, scientists are encouraging people to not panic despite the news of the mutated COVID-19 virus.
In the next few months, the general public is hoping to get the COVID-19 vaccine shots, with officials and experts encouraging everyone to get the shot if it becomes available.
This article is owned by Tech Times
Written by: Nhx Tingson