UK discovers another Coronavirus Variant, Says Health Secretary Hancock

Matt Hancock, UK Health Minister, stressed that it is "highly unlikely" that this finding interferes with the effectiveness of vaccines.

Matt Hancock, Britain's Secretary of Health, announced on December 14 before the House of Commons that a new variant of coronavirus has been discovered:

"We've currently identified over 1,000 cases with this variant predominantly in the South of England although cases have been identified in nearly 60 different local authority areas.

"We do not know the extent to which this is because of the new variant but no matter its cause we have to take swift and decisive action which unfortunately is absolutely essential to control this deadly disease while the vaccine is rolled out."

New coronavirus variant not to not affect the vaccine

Despite this, Hancock stressed that it is "highly unlikely" that this finding interferes with vaccines' effectivenessBBC cited medical sources that there are currently about 40 mutations of the pathogen.

The British Health Minister also stressed that there is no data to confirm that it causes a more severe infection, despite the fact that there are suspicions that this variant spreads more quickly. 

Maximum level of restrictions

During his appearance, Hancock announced that London, Essex and Kent counties are going to the maximum level of restrictions. Thus, as of Wednesday, bars and restaurants will have to close their doors, which will only be able to make home deliveries.

WHO position

María Van Kerkhove, technical manager for the management of the pandemic at the World Health Organization (WHO), said at a press conference that "so far there is no evidence that the new strain of the COVID-19 virus detected in the United Kingdom behave differently. "

He also pointed out that this variant has already been analyzed by the Body's Virus Evolution Working Group. "It has arisen in the context of the mink variants identified elsewhere."

For his part, Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO emergency program, stressed that " this type of evolution and mutations are actually quite common. As we have had more recently with the variants of mink in Denmark and the previous ones, the question is: Does this make the virus more serious? Does it allow the virus to be transmitted more easily? Does it interfere in any way with diagnoses? Would it in any way interfere with the efficacy of the vaccine? None of these questions have been addressed yet ".