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Chris Whitty confirms the new Covid strain is more contagious


Chris Whitty confirmed this afternoon that a mutated strain of Covid is more contagious – as he warns that cases are "increasing rapidly" in the southeast.

However, the English chief doctor emphasized that there was nothing to suggest that the new strain "VUI – 202012/01" is more deadly or more resistant to a vaccine.

At a press conference on Downing Street this afternoon, Boris Johnson found that the variant was 70 percent more transferable than previous spots, adding 0.4 to the country's R-value.

The new burden caused the Prime Minister to hold a press conference at 4 p.m. this afternoon after the crisis talks with the cabinet.

There are now signs that parts of the Home Countries, including London, are moving to a new Tier 4.

That brace may include the closure of non-essential stores and travel restrictions, including the “stay at home” order for Christmas Day itself, even though Mr Johnson only insisted a few days ago that five-day festive “bubbles” would take place.

Chris Whitty confirmed this afternoon that a new mutant strain of coronavirus is more contagious – as he warns cases are "increasing rapidly" in the southeast

At a press conference on Downing Street this afternoon, Boris Johnson found that the variant was 70 percent more transmissible than previous spots and increased the country's R-value by 0.4. Pictured: UK case rates rising over the past two weeks

At a press conference on Downing Street this afternoon, Boris Johnson found that the variant was 70 percent more transmissible than previous spots and increased the country's R-value by 0.4. Pictured: UK case rates rising over the past two weeks

His testimony comes as cases continue to rise in the southeast - 1,709 positive tests were carried out in Kent alone yesterday (Kent's daily case graph, picture)

His testimony comes as cases continue to rise in the southeast – 1,709 positive tests were carried out in Kent alone yesterday (Kent's daily case graph, picture)

21 died after testing positive in Kent on December 11th compared to none on October 5th (daily graph shown)

21 died after testing positive in Kent on December 11th compared to none on October 5th (daily graph shown)

The variant was first picked up in Kent in September and appears to be linked to an explosion of infections in London and the southeast.

There have been more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the new strain, mostly in southern England. However, exact locations were not disclosed.

Cases in Kent have increased since England's second lockdown began, with the seven-day average rising from 90.1 on October 5 to 1,306.4 on December 11.

And the county's daily death toll was similar: 21 were reported on December 11, compared to none on October 5.

Overall, the southeast has seen a spike in cases from September when the seven-day average case load was 156.4. On December 11th, that number was 3,804.4 (daily graph shown)

Overall, the southeast has seen a spike in cases from September when the seven-day average case load was 156.4. On December 11th, that number was 3,804.4 (daily graph shown)

Huge swaths of the Southeast were bumped into the toughest Covid restrictions on Wednesday after "sharp and exponential" growth in some cases

Huge swaths of the Southeast were bumped into the toughest Covid restrictions on Wednesday after "sharp and exponential" growth in some cases

Extensive parts of the southeast were placed in Tier 3 on Wednesday due to increasing cases in the region.

In a statement this afternoon, Professor Whitty said: & # 39; As announced on Monday, the UK has identified a new variant of Covid-19 through Public Health England's genomic surveillance.

& # 39; With the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary model data and rapidly increasing incidence rates in the Southeast, the Advisory Group on New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats (NERVTAG) now believes the new strain can spread faster.

& # 39; We have alerted the World Health Organization and are continuing to analyze the available data to improve our understanding.

& # 39; There is currently no evidence that the new strain is causing a higher death rate or affecting vaccines and treatments, although urgent work is being done to confirm this.

"With this recent development, it is more important than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission."

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE NEW STRAIN OF CORONAVIRUS?

What's the burden?

The strain, identified by Public Health England as VUI – 202012/01, is a version of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that is slightly different from older versions of the virus.

It has a number of 17 mutations, some on its spike protein, that change shape slightly.

The spike protein is a part on the outside that the virus uses to attach to the body and cause infection. It is also the main target of the immune system.

In particular, the three main mutations are the change of one amino acid to another and the deletion of two other amino acids. The amino acids are the building blocks of the virus.

The change is called N501Y and the deleted parts are called His69 and Val70.

When was the trunk discovered?

Matt Hancock said yesterday that Public Health England identified the mutations as a separate, significant strain of the virus last week.

Laboratory sequences show that the earliest trace of the strain dates back to September 20 in a Milton Keynes laboratory analyzing people's swab tests.

Not all mutations are logged as new strains once they are found, as some no longer occur often and others turn out to be completely insignificant.

The UK Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) said: "It is difficult to predict whether a particular mutation is important the first time it occurs, given the continued emergence of new mutations."

How common is this virus strain?

It is unclear.

Not every swab test done in the UK has genes analyzed. COG-UK records the genetic sequence of around 10 percent of the Department of Health's swab tests.

According to Matt Hancock, VUI – 202012/01 has been identified in more than 1,000 people to date.

Sampling increased significantly in October and November, but this may simply be a result of more people being infected.

There have been reports of exposure in at least 60 local authorities in England, the Health Secretary said, but most of the evidence came from London and the South East.

Where else was the trunk found?

The Nextstrain.org project, which is logging laboratory reports from the tribe, has found samples from records in Wales, Scotland and Denmark.

Public Health England confirmed it was in Australia too.

The vast majority are in England.

The strain of the virus is likely present in other countries, but may not have been captured by surveillance studies.

Do the mutations make the virus more contagious, more deadly, or make it less likely that a vaccine will work?

There is currently no reason to believe that the mutation will in any way alter the way the virus works or the immune system's ability to prevent Covid-19.

According to Matt Hancock, experts believe this may cause the virus to spread faster, but there is no evidence yet.

COG-UK said, "The vast majority of the mutations seen in SARS-CoV-2 have no apparent impact on the virus, and only a very small minority are believed to be important and affect the virus in any significant way."

The coronavirus has mutated thousands of times since it was first discovered in December, but none appear to have changed its basic behavior.

His warning followed experiments from the Porton Down laboratory in Wiltshire which found the new variant to be 50 percent more contagious than any previously discovered strain.

Overall, the southeast has seen a surge in cases from September when the seven-day average case load was 156.4. On December 11th, that number was 3,804.4.

Scientists this week claimed that the new strain of coronavirus spreading across the UK has a "remarkable" number of mutations.

Members of the UK Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) who studied the developed strain say they discovered 17 changes that they described as "a lot".

Many of the changes have occurred in the virus' spike protein, which is used to attach to human cells and cause disease.

Changes at the top are significant as most Covid vaccines in the works, including the Pfizer / BioNTech approved sting, target this protein.

It is feared that these changes could also prevent people from becoming immune if previously infected with another strain.

However, scientists, including Professor Whitty, said there was "no evidence" that the mutation, which was discovered in Wales, Scotland, Denmark and Australia, will affect vaccines.

Professor Nick Loman of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham and a member of COG-UK said, “There are actually 17 changes that would affect protein structure in any way that differentiate this variant from its kind of common ancestor. that are in circulation, which is a great deal.

"It's noticeable. There is a really long branch that goes back to the common ancestor, and it is of great interest why it does."

Most Covid vaccines train the immune system to recognize and attack spike proteins if the virus tries to become infected in the future.

However, if the shape of the spike proteins is changed by mutations, the virus can potentially slip through the body's natural defenses.

COG-UK said it was spreading faster than the dominant strain, which was imported by vacationers from Spain in the summer and which now accounts for the majority of infections.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the existence of the tribe on Monday, revealing that there was no clear evidence that this version could spread faster, but that it was growing far faster than any other tribe in the country.

Neither Public Health England nor COG-UK, the organizations that discovered the strain, could confirm where the cases were found.

Online lab records suggest that the first instance of the virus came from the government's Lighthouse Lab in Milton Keynes on Sept. 20, and PHE said yesterday that the person who provided the swab was from Kent.

Professor Tom Connor, a genomics and virus expert at Cardiff University and a member of COG-UK, said, "It's pretty clear that it has spread beyond (south-east England) and is spreading to other parts of the country."

A history of the virus published online by the Neher Lab at the University of Basel in Switzerland shows how it has become more common over time.

Progress has been slow according to the virus' first official records in September, and it wasn't until the UK's second wave began in late October that cases exploded.

This could be because the strain of the virus is spreading faster and cases are rising faster, according to scientists – or because it was simply found more frequently when cases were rising naturally.

At the time of the first sample, the UK had an average of just 3,700 positive coronavirus tests per day. By early November, when the samples were arriving thick and fast, the average number of positive results had risen to 23,000 per day.

Professor Loman said there was "no evidence" that the strain came from another country, adding, "It kind of comes out of nowhere.

"We have a long gap between the first cases we saw with this variant in late September (and the recent surge in cases) … it is more likely that they developed in the UK but we don't know."

"Right now there are very few examples of this in other countries – it really is kind of a British phenomenon."

And he said the reason the strain had now been made public is because it was spreading so quickly.

While it still makes up a small fraction of the cases, it is quickly becoming a larger factor and this could be because it is spreading faster than other strains.

Up to 20 percent of cases in Norfolk are believed to be due to the new strain – but officials haven't confirmed the numbers.

The scientists admitted it could be a coincidence, but said they would expect other strains to see similar voltage spikes that they don't.

The mutations of the coronavirus have resulted in changes in the spike protein on its outside (shown in red), with which the virus binds to the human body (original image of the virus by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The mutations of the coronavirus have resulted in changes in the spike protein on its outside (shown in red), with which the virus binds to the human body (original image of the virus by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The mapping of coronavirus samples confirmed to have mutations in the VUI - 202012/01 shows that almost all of them were in England (large green circle indicates proportional number of samples in England, not geographic area covered), but has also been found in Scotland, Wales and Denmark

The mapping of coronavirus samples confirmed to have mutations in the VUI – 202012/01 shows that almost all of them were in England (large green circle indicates proportional number of samples in England, not geographic area covered), but has also been found in Scotland, Wales and Denmark

The variant appears to be spreading faster than the dominant variety (20A.EU1) when it came to the UK from Spain in the summer.

Calling it "unusual", Professor Loman added, "This one swept the country and pretty quickly became the dominant variant and remains the dominant variant in the UK." The first modeling shows that this is growing faster than this. & # 39;

Professor Connor said, “There are a large number of circulating lines in the UK, but the most important thing to think about is to watch the rise over time.

"The results that originally came from the modeling were that in our experience this seems a bit unusual."

Professor Whitty's testimony as Boris Johnson is about to cancel Christmas for millions of people over fear of the "highly contagious" variant of the coronavirus.

The Prime Minister called an emergency press conference at 4pm this afternoon after holding crisis talks with the Cabinet – with signs that parts of the home countries, including London, are moving to a new Tier 4.

Monitoring the strain shows that it is growing faster than all other strains except the dominant strain and making up an increasing proportion of the total infections (the new strain is shown in pink and the timeline runs from May to December).

Monitoring the strain shows that it is growing faster than all other strains except the dominant strain and making up an increasing proportion of the total infections (the new strain is shown in pink and the timeline runs from May to December).

That brace may include the closure of non-essential stores and travel restrictions, including the “stay at home” order for Christmas Day itself, even though Mr Johnson only insisted a few days ago that five-day festive “bubbles” would take place.

The extraordinary U-turn would cause anger among families who have already made plans, booked trips and bought groceries for reunions.

Talks ensue between ministers on how to contain the mutant strain, which has so far been believed to be largely restricted to the southeast. The Prime Minister spoke to the cabinet by phone shortly after 1 p.m., while Michael Gove had discussions with the decentralized administrations.

There was already speculation that England would have to follow Wales and Northern Ireland to announce draconian crackdown after Christmas.

The Welsh government split from the rest of the UK by cutting the Christmas bubbles from three to two households from December 23-27. It is believed that grade 1-3 bubbles are still allowed in England.

HOW DOES THE MUTATE STRAIN OF CORONAVIRUS HAVE EMERGE?

Like all viruses, the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has a genetic code that contains all the information the virus needs to survive and reproduce.

It's made from RNA, a single-stranded version of its better-known bigger brother, DNA. RNA is made up of four types of molecules, known simply as A, U, C, and G.

Three of these bases in a row form the blueprint for larger molecules known as amino acids, which are the building blocks of all organic things on earth.

Once the virus infects a person's cells like a human lung cell, it multiplies by forcing the human cell to read its RNA and produce more virus.

These replicas are designed to be exactly the same, which is possible because the RNA is the same, but sometimes the cells can misread the genetic code and cause an error. A mutation occurs here.

A failure in the process can result in one of the A, U, C, G either being deleted or exchanged for another, thereby changing the physical form of the virus.

Other causes of mutations include interactions with other viruses infecting the same cell and changes caused by the host or a person's own immune system.

Most of the mutations to SARS-CoV-2 are due to the latter, researchers have already said.

These happen completely randomly and are common.

Researchers have found that the mutation rate of SARS-CoV-2 is unusually slow compared to other viruses such as flu and HIV.

Even so, the SARS-CoV-2 has mutated, with several different strains emerging.

One, D614G, emerged in February and is now the world's dominant variety.

It does this on the spike protein, which binds to the ACE2 receptor and allows the virus to infect the cell. The mutation at the 614th position on the top saw a & # 39; D & # 39; code for aspartate to a & # 39; G & # 39; for glycine.

The new mutation appeared in the 501st position of the spike protein and saw an & # 39; N & # 39; code for the amino acid asparagine, which for tyrosine changes into a & # 39; Y & # 39; changed.

Of the three bases that code for the amino acid, only one was wrong. Instead of being AAU, it was UAU. This single change changed the amino acid produced and affected the structure of the tip.

In addition to this swap, two amino acids named H69 / V70 were deleted, which are located on the first subunit of the spike protein in the receptor binding domain, a key location where the spike binds to the ACE2 receptor.

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