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UK’s ‘more infectious’ Covid-19 strain spreads faster

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

UK’s ‘more infectious’ Covid-19 strain spreads faster:


Context:

A new variant Covid-19 strain has been discovered in the United Kingdom last week and could be the reason behind the sharp rise in cases in the country.

  • Scientists and researchers say the new strain has much higher transmissibility than compared to the earlier variant.

Why do viruses mutate?

A mutation just means a difference; a letter change in the genome.

  • Mutations in viruses are a natural part of evolution.
  • The pressure on the virus to evolve is increased by the fact that so many millions of people have now been infected.

What is the Covid-19 mutant strain?

It has been named VUI-202012/01 (the first “Variant Under Investigation” in December 2020) and is defined by a set of 17 changes or mutations. As of Dec 13, a total of 1,108 cases with this new variant had been identified, predominantly in the south and east of England where cases have been rising.

How harmful is the new Covid strain?

  • This new variant is showing some 17 changes in the genome, this is a very large change. Due to this change, the transmissibility of this virus has also changed and is 70% more infectious compared to the earlier variant.
  • There is a high possibility that the new strain is still in the UK as it has not been detected in other parts of Europe.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Covid 19?
  2. What is mutation?
  3. What is mRNA?
  4. What is RTPCR test?

Mains Link:

Discuss the concerns associated with mutations of Covid- 19 virus.

Sources: the Hindu.