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Coronavirus has nearly 4,000 variants that causes Covid-19: UK Minister

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date
Coronavirus has nearly 4,000 variants that causes Covid-19: UK Minister

London: British Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi while prompting an effective immunization for the ongoing pandemic quoted a report that suggests that there are around 4,000 Coronavirus variants around the world which causes deadly Covid-19 infection.

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Thousands of variants of the type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 have been documented as the virus mutates, including the so-called British, South African and Brazilian variants which appear to spread more swiftly than others.

UK Minister Nadhim expressed his concerns over current vaccines as he believes would not work against the new variants.

“Its very unlikely that the current vaccine won’t be effective on the variants whether in Kent or other variants especially when it comes to severe illness and hospitalisation,” Zahawi said.

“All manufacturers, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and others, are looking at how they can improve their vaccine to make sure that we are ready for any variant – there are about 4,000 variants around the world of COVID now.”

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According to the British Medical Journal, thousands of variants have arisen as the virus mutates on replication but only a very small minority are likely to be important and to change the virus in an appreciable way.

Meanwhile, the British variant also known as VUI-202012/01 has mutations including a change in the spike protein that viruses use to bind to the human ACE2 receptor, meaning that it is probably easier to catch.

“We have the largest genome sequencing industry – we have about 50% of the world’s genome sequencing industry – and we are keeping a library of all the variants so that we are ready to respond – whether in the autumn or beyond – to any challenge that the virus may present and produce the next vaccine,” Zahawi further said.

Vaccines available for Covid-19

Novel coronavirus, which is also known as SARS-CoV-2, has killed nearly 2.268 million people worldwide since it first emerged in China in late 2019, as per reports.

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As this virus is reportedly high on infection and mortality rate, there is kind of a race going-on between the countries to invent a vaccines for it. Vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca among others are currently being administered to immunize people from this deadly virus.

Israel is currently far ahead of the rest of the world on vaccinations per head of population, followed by the UAE, UK, Bahrain, US and then Spain, Italy and Germany.

On Thursday, Britain too launched a trial to assess the immune responses generated if doses of the vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca are combined in a two-shot schedule. The British researchers carrying out the trial said that the data on inoculating people with the two different types of vaccines could help understanding of whether shots can be rolled out with greater flexibility around the world. The trial will examine the immune responses of an initial dose of Pfizer vaccine followed by a booster of AstraZeneca’s, as well as vice versa, with intervals of four and 12 weeks.

Initial data on immune responses is expected to be generated around June.

Britain is currently administering, both the mRNA shot developed by Pfizer and BioNtech and the adenovirus viral vector vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, with a 12-week gap between two doses of the same vaccine.

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