Vastavam web: Scientists in the UK are investigating the impact of a new mutant variant of coronavirus, named VUI-202012/01, on children and whether its faster transmission in parts of England is down to the younger segment of the population. The government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) is monitoring the data to analyse this arc of the variant, which has led over 40 countries, including India, to suspend travel to and from the UK in order to try and contain the more infectious mutation.
Earlier strains of coronavirus found it harder to infect children than adults, with one explanation being that children have fewer of the doorways called the ACE2 receptor the virus uses to enter a human body’s cells. “Therefore children are equally susceptible, perhaps, to this virus as adults, and therefore given their mixing patterns, you would expect to see more children being infected,” she explained.
Experts do not believe that the new version is any greater threat to children’s health and the scientist behind the world’s first approved vaccine against COVID-19 has said the Pfizer/BioNTech jabs will work against the strain, though further investigation remains underway. “The likelihood that our vaccine works is relatively high,” said Ugur Sahin, chief executive of the German co-developer of the vaccine BioNTech. Speaking on Bild TV’ in Germany, Sahin said his company would investigate the mutation in the coming days and that he viewed the matter with a degree of soberness. His address came as nearly 1,500 lorries piled up on the borders as France sealed off the UK amid fears of the new rapid spreading variant.
Government ministers have been working to get the block lifted, with mass testing of the drivers being one option in order for the flow of goods to resume and truckers able to get back home in time for Christmas. “Testing of some sort is part of the discussions that the transport secretary is having with his counterpart in France right now,” UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said. From initial reports of the new variant being more confined to London and southern parts of England, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, has now confirmed that it is to be found “everywhere”. This would mean that a more nationwide stay-at-home lockdown might be on its way to add to the millions already under the Tier 4 level of the most stringent curbs and shutdown of businesses and activity. Scotland Yard issued a statement urging the public to comply with the measures, which ban different households from mixing to try and curb the rapid spread of the deadly virus.