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Local News 17 Feb, 2021 Follow News


Health experts and authorities in the United Kingdom and the United States are focusing their attention on a new coronavirus variant reported this week.

Labelled as B1525, it is said to be similar to the UK/Kent variant which has been shown to have a more contagious that the original strain of the virus.

According to a BBC report, this new variant contains a number of mutations that have worried researchers, including the E484K mutation which has been found in South Africa and Brazil.

UK experts are studying it to understand what risk it poses but they are said to be concerned that it could help the virus evade neutralising antibodies.

Cases have been found in England, Wales, the United States, Denmark and Nigeria.

However, it has been stated that there is currently no evidence that this set of mutations causes more severe illness or increased transmissibility.

Authorities are reported to be keeping a close eye on this latest variant following the emergence of the UK/Kent, Brazil and South Africa variants.

One concern is that the COVID-19 virus is changing in ways that could let it easily spread and escape from the vaccines which have so far been developed to fight the pandemic.

Scientists believe they should still work against the new variants, although they caution "perhaps not quite as well".

But they remind that new vaccines are being developed that are a better match for new variants.

Professor Andrew Hayward, an expert in epidemiology at University College London, was quoted as saying: "Fortunately, it doesn't seem to be spreading any faster than other strains and it's still at very, very low levels.

"With all of these variants, we really need to be keeping a very close eye on them because we don't know what they will do," he said.

Meanwhile, researchers in the US have raised the question if the world might be entering a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic with these new variants.

They say the recent emergence of multiple variants of the new coronavirus may have created the raw material for what's called 'recombination' where people can be infected with two different variants at once.

Here in Cayman, efforts continue to keep the virus at bay.

The ongoing vaccination programme, a key tool in the battle, was this week heading towards 17,000 inoculations with around 7,000 persons already receiving both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine being administered.

Testing, screening and quarantining is also continuing especially for arriving travellers.

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