Britain to help other countries track down coronavirus variants

Britain to help other countries track down coronavirus variants
  • Clock-gray 09:30
  • calendar-gray 26 January 2021

Britain will share its genomic sequencing capabilities with other countries to help quicker identify new variants of the coronavirus in places with less ability to do so, its health ministry said on Tuesday, APA reports citing Reuters.

New variants of the coronavirus have alarmed scientists, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the prospect of a “vaccine-busting” variant could mean that lockdown measures are needed for longer and new travel restrictions are introduced.

Britain said it had carried out more than half the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences submitted to a global database, and would launch a New Variant Assessment Platform which could be used for coronavirus variants and also future pandemics.

The three major variants of concern identified so far were discovered in Britain, South Africa and Brazil. All three variants are thought to be more transmissible.

The variant discovered in Britain could also be associated with higher mortality, although the evidence around that is uncertain.

Moderna said on Monday it believe its COVID-19 vaccine protects against the British and South African variants, although it will test a new booster shot aimed at the South Africa variant after concluding the antibody response could be diminished.

Britain’s health minister and health officials have said they believe the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines being rolled out in the country work against the UK variant.

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