New Strains of Covid-19

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Amy Roufaeil , Staff Writer

We have gone from the initial conception that “this would all be over in 2 weeks” to gaining knowledge that there are now two known new strains of the virus traveling the world and possibly a third. The first new form of the Coronavirus is the B117 type, first identified in November in the United Kingdom and now reported in Europe, as well as in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Oceania in a rising number of countries. This form is 56 percent more transmissible than the virus circulating in the United States. The UK strain has been identified in several countries from around the world. 

According to the CDC, the new coronavirus “mutates regularly, acquiring about one new mutation in its genome every two weeks” but the majority of mutations are insignificant. Researchers are still trying to determine the significance of the new UK variant. But the CDC noted that based on early data, “this variant strain has been predicted to potentially be more rapidly transmissible than other circulating strains.” The British government has reported that a second, and possibly much more contagious, new strain of the coronavirus was first detected in South Africa and has now appeared in the United Kingdom. 

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told reporters that the South African variant is “highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant discovered in the UK.” Africa’s top public health official said that a third new variant of the coronavirus appears to have emerged in Nigeria, as reported by the Associated Press. “It’s a separate lineage from the UK and South Africa,” John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters. 

Several U.S. states confirmed cases of a more contagious coronavirus strain that was first identified in the United Kingdom – and more states are likely to identify new strains as well. Many hospitals are once again inundated with new patients according to state reports, with some Intensive Care Units working at full capacity. Americans are advised by federal and state authorities to continue taking measures for public health safety such as wearing masks, washing hands and practicing social distancing.