Another new strain of coronavirus detected in the UK was first identified in South Africa in early October. This is reported on the Public Health England (PHE) website.
The new B1.351 virus strain (also known as 501Y.V2) was found in samples taken from Nelson Mandela Bay (an urban district in the Eastern Cape in South Africa). “Molecular data show that it may have been circulating since late August,” the British specialists determined the timing of its appearance.
It is specified that there is currently no evidence that the mutated virus leads to a more severe form of the disease or that vaccines already developed would be ineffective against it.
On Dec. 23, another mutation of SARS-CoV-2 was found in two people in the United Kingdom. The new strain was thought to have originated in South Africa because both cases were found in people who had come into contact with those infected there.
The form of the coronavirus, which was discovered earlier in December, has become widespread in the United Kingdom and is quickly supplanting the previous strain. The mutated virus has also been found in patients in the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia and Italy.
Although the mutation may make the pathogen more contagious, there is no evidence yet that it facilitates transmission of SARS-CoV-2 or makes the virus more dangerous. Despite this, restrictions on entry from Britain have been imposed in most European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany and France, for example. Russia also halted air links with Britain for a week.