COVID: What is the variant of the South African coronavirus? Brighton News

MORE THAN 40 new cases of the South African variant of Covid-19 have been identified in south London.

A “significant” cluster of the South African variant of the coronavirus has been identified in two London boroughs, triggering new surge tests.

Wandsworth and Lambeth will see surge testing implemented after 44 confirmed and 30 probable cases have been identified.

The Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC) called it “the largest surge testing operation to date.”

All identified cases are in isolation or have completed isolation and their contacts have been traced.

What is the South African variant?

All viruses mutate over time, including the one that causes Covid-19.

Because of this, a genome monitoring system that would signal when new variants were recognized.

Variants native to South Africa, Brazil and Japan have all been found in the UK and several other countries and are much more likely to be identified in the coming months.

Viruses are constantly changing, and these changes can build up in the virus’s genetic code, which usually has little or no impact on it.

However, every now and then a significant change in the virus may occur, which means that it mutates in a way that is beneficial to it, such as allowing it to spread faster.

The South African variant spike protein (the part of the virus that allows it to attach to a human cell) has mutated and changed in a way that means it is now 50% more infectious, making it easier to break down. spread.

How is this different from the variant we already have?

There is no evidence to suggest that the South African variant (known as 501.V2 or B.1.351) causes more serious illness for the vast majority of those infected.

The Department of Health (DoH) has listed this as a “variant of concern” due to its rapid rate of infection and concerns about the vaccine’s effectiveness against it.

Has anywhere else in the UK identified the South African variant?

Yes, the South African variant was first seen in the UK in September 2020 when Public Health England investigated why infection rates in Kent were not declining despite national restrictions. They then discovered a cluster related to this variant spreading rapidly in London and Essex.

However, no other case of the variant has currently been identified in the UK outside of Lambeth and Wandsworth.

Will the coronavirus vaccine protect you?

Little is known about the responsiveness of the South African variant to vaccines available in the UK and it is too early to say for sure how well the vaccines will protect you.

Scientists tested the response of the Pfizer vaccine against a number of coronavirus mutations and in this study it was clear that the vaccine would still work, but it was less effective.

Moderna’s early results suggest that its vaccine is still effective against the South African variant, although the immune response may not be as strong or prolonged.

Two new coronavirus vaccines that may be approved soon – one from Novavax and one from Janssen – appear to offer some protection against the variant.

Preliminary work suggests the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine offers “limited” protection against mild illnesses of the South African variant, but experts say it should still protect against serious illnesses.

Vaccines, like viruses, can change and adapt to ensure their effectiveness – vaccines can be redesigned in the coming months if necessary.

What is the surge test?

Surge testing is increased testing (including door-to-door testing in some areas) and improved contact finding in specific locations in England.

This involves testing people who do not have any symptoms of the coronavirus being tested.

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This notice was published: 2021-04-13 11:18:30