Covid-19: Researchers find new strain more transmissible, tough to control

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 04, 2021

This ‘accentuates the urgency of rolling out vaccination as quickly as possible’

The new highly-virulent strain of the coronavirus, known as VOC 202012/01 or B.1.1.7, that had emerged in the United Kingdom in mid-September has raged across the country, necessitating strict lockdowns, Hindustan Times reported.

Further study on the new strain carried out by researchers at Imperial College London, University of Edinburgh, Public Health England (PHE), the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Birmingham, and the Covid-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium, supports the evidence that the variant of concern (VOC) is significantly more transmissible and infects younger people faster.

Also read: ‘Covid-19 new strain is not as virulent as reports are coming in’: AIIMS Professor

The researchers of the study said: “Critically, we find evidence that non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs, or containment strategies such as lockdowns) were sufficient to control non-VOC lineages to reproduction numbers below 1 during the November 2020 lockdown in England, but that at the same time the NPIs were insufficient to control the VOC.”

During its initial stage, the coronavirus was not as lethal for the younger crowd as it was for the elderly. However, the mutated strain of the virus has found its way to infect young people as well.

Reproduction number means the average number of secondary infections that one case can cause. The health authorities aim to bring this to under 1 in order to not overwhelm health care facilities. However, the researchers found that the VOC’s R number up till December 6 was 1.74 times its wild type version.

Also read: Covid-19: India successfully cultures UK-variant of SARS-CoV-2, says ICMR

One of the authors, Neil Ferguson, the vice-dean of the School of Public Health, Imperial College London, said: “These analyses, which have informed UK government planning in recent weeks, show that the new variant of concern, B.1.1.7, has substantially higher transmissibility than previous Sars-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the UK. This will make control more difficult and further accentuates the urgency of rolling out vaccination as quickly as possible.”

Published on January 04, 2021

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