Professor Chris Whitty responded to a number of critical coronavirus questions this morning on the BBC. Chief among them was how to reduce your risk of catching and transmitting the new strain of coronavirus, which is thought to be driving the surge in cases and deaths. As he explained, when you meet people from another household, the virus has the chance to be transmitted.
He said: “It can be passed on in households when people meet people in their home, shops or any environment with an indoor setting.”
What do we know about the new variant?
All viruses undergo mutations, and through selection pressure can result in different variants.
The variant of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19) originally termed lineage B.1.1.7, was detected in November 2020 and is rapidly spreading across England and other parts of the UK.
The new variant transmits more easily than the previous one but there is no evidence that it is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality.
New research suggests that the B.1.1.7 variant currently sweeping the UK will not evade immune responses generated by vaccines or a previous Covid infection.
Researchers in the US found that antibodies collected from former patients very rarely targeted parts of the virus that were mutated in the new variant.
Their work suggests only 0.5 percent of individuals are at risk of having reduced protection against the variant, named B.1.1.7.
Commenting on his findings, Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at Yale University, said: “The B.1.1.7 variant is unlikely to escape recognition by antibodies generated by prior infection with [older versions of the] virus or the vaccines.”
Other variants to watch
The virus has undergone in mutations in other parts of the world too, including South Africa.
Japanese health officials have also a new strain of coronavirus, which they say is similar to the mutations found in the UK and South Africa.
The new strain was detected on passengers who had disembarked from a plane that had arrived from Brazil.
Japanese news outlet Nikkei Asia said the passengers arrived at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Saturday, January 2.
What are the main symptoms of coronavirus?
The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
- A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
“Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms,” says the NHS.
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Published at Mon, 11 Jan 2021 07:59:00 +0000