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New COVID-19 strain causing panic; no evidence of mutation being more dangerous, say experts

Updated : December 21, 2020 09:41 PM IST

The UK has identified a new variant of the coronavirus, which is believed to be 70 percent more transmissible when compared to the original strain. This has set alarm bells ringing across the world.

However, there is no concrete evidence on whether the new variant is deadlier and scientists suggest that they would require more data before arriving at a conclusion.

The UK government has imposed the highest level of restrictions in London and most parts of South England. A number of countries including India, Italy, France and Germany have already imposed a travel ban on UK as precautionary measures.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, John Nicholls, Professor – Pathology at University of Hong Kong said that there is some evidence that mutations may affect transmissibility. However, he said that more laboratory studies are needed to see the impact of the mutation.

Moreover, he was not concerned about the progress of various vaccines as they can be tweaked to be effective on any mutation.

Polly Roy, Professor and Chair of Virology at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was of the view that the mutation may not have travelled out of UK, but old practices around COVID-19 – like hygiene -- need to continue. He also said that making a big deal out of mutation without any virological data can be a big problem.

Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil, Chairman of Scientific Advisory Committee at National Institute of Epidemiology said that mutations with viruses is a common phenomenon, but currently there is no evidence to suggest that the mutated virus is more dangerous.

Speaking about the Indian government acquiring the vaccine from Serum Institute, Muliyil said that a backlash in terms of a wrong vaccine could be very dangerous and hence India needs to act accordingly to acquire the vaccine.

For the complete discussion, watch the video.
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