New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid an alarming surge in cases of a new strain of coronavirus in the United Kingdom, the scientist in the country are now worried that the vaccines developed for the coronavirus may not work against another new variant of COVID-19 which has been lately found in South Africa. Both Britain and South Africa have reported new and more transmissible strains of coronavirus which resulted in a surge in cases in both the countries.

The South African government on December 18 announced that they have detected a new variant of COVID-19 that is rapidly spreading in three provinces across the country and have named the new variant 501Y.V2. The South African variant has been reported in four other countries in the world.

While the British health authorities are confident that the vaccines would be effective against the new strain found in the UK, England's Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Monday said that he is now very worried about the new strain found in South Africa.

"According to one of the government's scientific advisers, the reason for Matt Hancock's 'incredible worry' about the South African coronavirus variant is that they are not as confident the vaccines will be as effective against it as they are for the UK's variant," Political editor Robert Peston, as quoted by Reuters, said.

Scientists from BioNTech and Oxford University have said that they are testing the vaccines against the new strains and asserted that they could make tweaks in their vaccines in around 6 weeks to combat the new strain. Meanwhile, Public Health England has suggested that there was currently no evidence that the vaccines will not wor against the new strains.

Oxford University's John Bell, who advises the UK's COVID-19 task force, said that there was a big question mark as to whether the COVID-19 vaccines will work against the new strain found in South Africa, adding that, it might now take another month or six weeks to develop a new vaccine for the South African strain.

As per the scientists, the South African strain has multiple mutations in the spike protein that the virus uses to infect human cells. It has also been associated with a higher viral load, meaning a higher concentration of virus particles in patients' bodies, possibly contributing to higher levels of transmission.

There are currently 60 vaccine candidates in trials, including those that are already being rolled out from AstraZeneca and Oxford, Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, Russia's Sputnik V and China's Sinopharm.

(With Reuters Inputs)

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan