The variant of Sars-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, which was found in the UK has been dubbed VUI - 202012/01. It's 70% more transmissible. The new strain was associated with 10-15% coronavirus cases in a few areas. Last week, it was associated with nearly 60% of cases in London.
The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), released a summary on the new variant. Dr.Muge Cevik, a member of the group said, "Although the results depend on the quality and quantity of data you feed it, this appears to be an important variant based on genetic data."The mutations in viruses aren't uncommon. The scientists are particularly concerned about the changes in the new version's spike protein. The spike protein is a part of the virus which allows it to compromise cells in the lungs. The spike protein can significantly improve the virus' ability to interact with a receptor called ACE-2.
The new strain has left many countries worried, India being one of them. An emergency meeting has been called today, just as the country readies to begin the vaccination program. Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan hinted that India may start vaccinating citizens from January 2021. The United States, which is the worst-affected, is also studying the new strain.