WHO discusses new strains of coronavirus circulating in the UK, South Africa

World Health Organization officials held a news briefing on Monday to discuss the changes in coronavirus responsible for new strains in both South Africa and the United Kingdom

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a new strain of virus that is spreading in the UK it is reported to be more infectious, but there is no evidence that it is more deadly. He said that containing coronavirus transmission is essential – the more opportunities it has to spread the virus, the more opportunities it has to move.

The new strain of the virus in the UK has led dozens of countries in the European Union and around the world to close their borders to travelers in the country and British officials to tighten residence restrictions at home.

Epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical director for coronavirus, said British researchers were analyzing the transmission rates of the new strain and saw an increase. Researchers are also investigating whether the variant leads to more severe cases of COVID-19 or more deaths and have so far seen no indication, as she said, as well as research into the antibody response to the new strain.

While the coronavirus is far from as infectious as the orion or measles virus, someone with the new strain in the UK could infect an average of another 1.5 people, rather than the average 1.1 for the previous strain of coronavirus. This means that the virus could spread faster. British officials have told the WHO that it may have been circulating since September.

Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergency Program, said there was no evidence that the option would “change the value of vaccines in the future”, but in response to a question from CBS News’ Pamela Falk at the conference. The press said Ryan, “This is being tested, but first, you don’t know when to start.”

The new variant found in South Africa contains a mutation similar to the British strain, Van Kerkhove said, but it is a separate variant.

Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in the UK, which has hampered the expected relaxation of safety measures for Christmas. More than 67,700 people in that country have died from the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. In South Africa, 24,691 died.

Nearly 77 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and nearly 1.7 million have died.