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new covid variant

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According a study by the University of Texas, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can still target a key mutation that has emerged in two new variants of coronavirus.

However, this is only one of many mutations that are found in the new forms of the virus.

So while the study has been welcomed, it is not being seen as definitive scientific evidence about how the vaccine will perform.

New variants have been detected in the UK and South Africa.

Both variants are spreading more quickly and this has raised questions over what level of protection vaccines can offer against them.

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The widely held view is that vaccines will still work, but researchers are on the hunt for proof.

The study focuses on a mutation called N501Y, which is emerged in both new variants.

This is thought to be important because it is in the part of the virus that makes first contact with our body’s cells and changes could make it easier to get in and cause an infection.

The researchers created two forms of the virus – one with and one without the mutation – and then bathed those viruses in blood samples taken from 20 patients that had been vaccinated in clinical trials.

The study results showed the immune systems of vaccinated patients were able to take out the new mutation.

However, the variant that emerged contain multiple mutations whose combined effects may help the virus evade the immune system.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Coronavirus cases are now rising fast again in the UK, driven by a mutated variant of the virus thought to be much more easily transmissible than other strains.

A further 33,364 confirmed cases have been announced by the government on December 21.

Dozens of countries have introduced UK travel restrictions following the identification of a new strain of coronavirus.

The week-long ban on travel to or from the UK begins on December 23 and applies to all travelers coming from the UK or who have been in the country over the past 10 days.

Some exceptions do apply, however, with Pakistani nationals in the UK on visitor or temporary visas permitted to return if they provide a negative test 72 hours before travel, undergo another test upon arrival and quarantine at home for seven days afterwards.

EU officials are discussing a joint response to the new, more infectious Covid-19 variant in the UK.

Canada and India joined European states in blocking flights from the UK while Europe-bound train services via the Channel Tunnel have been halted.

The new Covid strain is said to be up to 70% more transmissible, but there is no evidence that it is more deadly.

There is also no proof to suggest that it reacts differently to vaccines.

UK Coronavirus: What We Need to Know?

Two meetings were taking place in Brussels on December 21 – one involving health ministers and another with the EU’s crisis response team. But no decision is expected until December 22, when EU ambassadors meet.

Countries that have introduced UK travel restrictions include:

  • Europe: France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Belgium, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Croatia, Finland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Luxembourg, Malta
  • North America: Canada
  • Latin America: Argentina, El Salvador, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador
  • Middle East: Turkey, Israel, Iran, Kuwait, Jordan. Saudi Arabia has also suspended all international flights for a week. Oman has closed all of its land, air and sea borders for a week
  • Africa: Morocco, Sudan
  • Asia: India, Pakistan, Hong Kong