Experts warn of a new COVID strain in UK; call for urgent surge in testing

Just when the world believed that the cases of COVID-19 were sliding down, it has been discovered that a new COVID strain was found in the United Kingdom with similar attributes to the Kent variant. In fact, experts have warned that this new strain, B1525, should be targeted with surge testing immediately.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified the variant via genome sequencing in ten countries including 35 cases in Denmark, 33 cases in the UK, and about 10 in the United States. The earliest cases of this strain were reported in December and were primarily found in Nigeria and the UK. To date, nearly 108 cases have been detected across 11 economies in Europe, Africa, Middle East, and North America.

It has been reported by the researchers that B1525 is similar in make-up to the dominant Kent variation which created a mutation- E484K, also found in the Kent, Brazilian and South African variants. It would be essential to note that E484K spike protein plays a major role in getting the virus into the body. In this regard, the experts have called in for surge testing of the virus variant, to see the effect of it post vaccination.

Dr. Simon Clarke, an associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, while commenting on the studies going on for the new COVID strain, mentioned that they are unaware of the spread mechanism of the B1525 variant, but if successful it can be assumed that immunity from any vaccine would be blunted. He mentioned that any variants which transmit E484K should be subject to surge testing urgently as it seems to determine resistance to immunity.

On the other hand, an official source from Public Health England reported that they were adding the variant to their online database. According to the statement released by Medical Director at PHE, Professor Yvonne Doyle, the organization is currently analyzing data about emerging variants very closely. He added that there is currently no indication that the new set of mutations causes severe illness or enhanced transmissibility.

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