In recent times, the United Kingdom detected the new strain of coronavirus, which the scientists and public officials are considering as the ‘second wave’ of COVID-19. Driven with which, there is a sense of suspicion and fear in the wind among the masses in the UK as well as in the whole world. In early 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, medical experts speculated if there would be waves of this virus, which a common pattern is observed in other virus pandemics. The comprehensive pattern witnessed of the SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 thus far has been one of escalating cases of COVID-19, with an upsurge in the summer and a bigger one in the fall. Some parts of the globe that witnessed a greater number of COVID-19 cases in the early stage, and further followed by a sink, are majorly observing or estimated to observe a “second wave” of mounting cases. In the recent past, Europe is proclaiming a rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases as well as an upswing in hospitalizations and casualties.
Similarly, in London last week, an approximated 2% of people in private households tested positive for the coronavirus, as per the reports of The Independent. The general human behavior is considered as a key factor for the sudden upsurge in the active cases of COVID-19, as many state and local governments, as well as individual people, contradict in their response to the pandemic. Some of them responsibly follow all kinds of safety measures, including regularly hand-washing, using sanitizers, physical distancing, and mask-wearing, whereas others are not as prescriptive in requiring these measures. By the same token, in some regions, communities and towns, and public places are completely closed or practicing restrictions such as only a limited number of people are allowed at a time; while others are functioning normally. Some community leaders or regulatory authorities are responsibly encouraging people to follow safety measures or even mandate mask-wearing and physical distancing in public places. Others say it is a matter of personal choice.
However, large parts of Europe are in a second lockdown as a new wave of virus blew past through the continent. As per the statements of Dr Chris Smith, consultant virologist at the University of Cambridge, "There will be another peak, as soon as you spare the virus more opportunities to spread, which is exactly what the casting loose of a lockdown will do, then there will be another peak." Regarding the concerns of the community, the majority of the scientists are saying they are fairly justified. The new strain of coronavirus has expeditiously become the predominant strain in cases of COVID-19 in most parts of Southern England and has been connected to an escalation in hospitalization rates, specifically in London and in the neighboring provision of Kent.
The major reason to worry is that the new variant is moderately more transmissible than the first or initial strain. As per the genetics analysis by the scientists, this new variant consists of 23 mutations in its genetic code, which is a relatively high number of changes, and therefore, some of these are influencing its capability to spread. According to scientists, it is about 40%-70% more transmissible than the original variant. As a consequence, the new variant is spreading at a much faster pace in Britain, thereby making the pandemic yet harder to control and accelerating the risk of spreading rapidly in other countries as well.
Looking at the brighter side, in accordance with the experts, there is no clue yet that vaccines that are at present being deployed in the UK - developed by Pfizer and BioNtech - or any other COVID-19 vaccines in development will lack the capacity to protect against this variant. More to that, as stated by Adam Finn, a vaccine specialist, and professor of pediatrics at Bristol University, “it is improbable that the new variant will have anything more than a minor, if any, impact on the vaccine’s effectiveness,”. And apart from that, all kinds of viruses mutate and that is perfectly normal.
Majority of the time these virus mutations are not at all harmful. Even they don't make the virus more toxic. Furthermore, there are plenty of safety measures people can adopt in order to protect themselves and the entire community from further spreading of a new variants of the virus. The basic precautions which should be constantly kept in mind is maintaining hygiene, using sanitizers, physical distancing, and avoiding going to crowded or confined places. Ultimately the more of us that continue to adhere to these safety precautions, the lower the total case numbers and infection rate will be, thus helping the global community come back to some form of normality as soon as possible.