New South African mutant coronavirus strain difficult to track may have already spread widely in the U.K.


The new South African stain of the coronavirus may have spread rapidly across the U.K. Unfortunately, this particular variant is difficult to detect and isolate when compared with other virus strains.


The Health Secretary has ordered those who have visited South Africa these past two weeks or have been in contact with a person who has visited that country should quarantine immediately. All flights from South Africa have been suspended.


Other rapidly spreading mutants of the coronavirus have been tracked with tests, making it easier to study its spread. Recently another variant, dubbed the Kent strain, has been tracked as the PCR data shows deletions in the S gene. This distinguishes it from the original strain.


Two cases of the new South African strain 501.V2 have been detected in the U.K.  Data indicates that it spreads very rapidly. Scientists believe that there may be many, many more cases as the South African strain has all the three genes contained the original strains. Hence it is difficult to distinguish it from the common strains. It can only be traced with genetic sequencing.


Scientists are concerned that vaccines may not work to protect people who have been infected with the South African strain. Some of them are conducting research to determine whether the vaccines will work and protect against both the Kent and the South African strain. Others believe that there would be residual effects of the vaccine.


Data from South Africa says it is very infectious. It seems to be infecting more young people according to South Africa’s health minister.

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