KENT Covid variant is ‘going to sweep the world’ as the mutation looks set to become the world’s most dominant strain.
Professor Sharon Peacock, head of the Covid-19 Genomics UK (Cog-UK) Consortium said the Kent variant of the coronavirus has already been located in more than 50 countries and “is going to sweep the world, in all probability.” First detected in September 2020 in the UK, studies have shown that this strain is up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the original virus, and while early tests have shown that the current vaccinations are effective against it, experts fear that it could continue to mutate and become more resistant.
Speaking on the BBC’s Newscast podcast on Thursday morning, February 10, Ms Peacock said: “Once we get on top of it [Covid-19] or it mutates itself out of being virulent – causing disease – then we can stop worrying about it.
“But I think, looking in the future, we’re going to be doing this for years. We’re still going to be doing this 10 years down the line, in my view.”
While most virus variants aren’t in fact any more deadly than the original strain – in fact, Ms Peacock said that this is something which is “vanishingly rare” – it is essential that the experts continue to examine positive cases in order to understand their make-up.
Most worryingly, an extra mutation has now been found in 21 cases of people infected with the Kent strain, similar to a mutation found in the South African virus, leading experts to fear that the Kent virus could be well on its way to becoming the UK’s most dominant version of the virus.
Speaking about this new development, Professor Ravi Gupta, an infectious diseases expert at Cambridge University, said: “The number of sequences is low at present, though enhanced surveillance is being undertaken by PHE.
“There may be more cases out there given how high transmission has been. We need to continue vaccinating and drive down transmission.”
Recent research has raised concerns about the efficacy of the vaccines against the mutations, after a small study in South Africa found that the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab had “limited efficacy” against the mutant strain. However, Ms Peacock said that she was confident that all of the vaccines currently in use in the UK are effective against the Kent variant.
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