The new strain of the coronavirus disease that was initially discovered in the United Kingdom had reportedly been documented in neighboring European countries and even in Asia and Australia despite efforts to contain the highly-transmissible COVID-19 variant.
New COVID-19 UK Strain
According to the Washington Post, cases of the new strain have been documented in Canada, Australia, Japan, Lebanon, and several European countries beyond the UK, including in Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and Sweden on Saturday, December 26, 2020.
These are despite the efforts of countries to stop movement in and out of the UK to avoid further spread of the disease.
Ontario's chief medical officer has confirmed two cases of the new coronavirus strain in the country on Saturday, which is the first time the variant was detected in North America.
It is possible that a few cases of the new strain will be reported, especially as the first two known cases, a couple, had no known travel history, meaning that they acquired the disease from community spread.
The new strain, which is dubbed as VUI 202012/01, as per Aljazeera, was believed to have first appeared in the country in mid-September.
Spreading Beyond the UK
The United States, which remains to be the top country with the most cases of the disease, has not confirmed any cases related to the new variant, but experts say that this might be due to the country's "very low rate of genetic sequencing" of the novel coronavirus, which checks for such changes.
However, the US will begin stricter requirements for travelers coming from Britain.
As per the news outlet, anyone traveling to the US from the UK must show a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the plane's departure.
Furthermore, other countries are doing the same thing.
Japan, which has confirmed five cases of COVID-19 related to the new strain, is on temporary lockdown as all foreign nationals, except those with residency, will be banned from entering the country starting Monday, December 28, 2020, through the end of January 2021.
COVID-19 Vaccines to Work on New Variant
With the coming of the COVID-19 vaccine, the general public was hoping to see the end of the pandemic until the news of the new strain broke out, causing widespread fear yet again.
Nevertheless, scientists believe that despite evidence that the new variant is more contagious than its previous variant, they have no reason to believe that the new COVID-19 strain is deadlier or more resistant to the upcoming coronavirus vaccine.
Experts have encouraged the general public to not panic as the COVID-19 vaccines from leading companies such as Pfizer and BioNTech will work against the new strain and several other variants of the virus.
Moreover, Moderna is also confident that their vaccine candidate will also work against the UK strain of the virus, according to the New York Post.
"While we plan to run tests to confirm the activity of the vaccine against any strain, the broad range of potential neutralizing antibodies made possible by the Moderna COVID 19 Vaccine provides confidence that our vaccine will also be effective at inducing neutralizing antibodies against them," Moderna said.
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Written by: Nhx Tingson