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New South African Variant of Covid-19 in the UK Raises Concerns

In a recent discovery of a new variant of the virus, the UK government has imposed a stricter set of restrictions towards highly infected areas as millions are thrust under the confining measures of Tier 4.

Alarmingly, another new variant has been discovered in the UK last Tuesday. Two cases of this new variant emerged initially in the nation. The people infected are passengers who recently returned from South Africa. Scientists have been implementing research on this new variant, and the latest results confirmed its ability to spread more effectively than the first detected mutation. The target audience seems to be set in younger people aged between 15 to 25, especially students, who are considered as the most effective group to provoke large-scale virus transmissions in school. Though there has been no notice or sign of strengthened symptoms, its widespread infection among multiple communities provoked concerns for a second wave of infections in the coming weeks.

Although the two new variants recently detected in the UK shared similarities, both developed from the same kind of mutation that targeted against certain cells to infect the human body, this South African variant is discovered to mutate more widely from the first one. Fears arise for the possibility of reinfection as people could be easily effected by a second wave of infections that are composed of new mutations still not understood. Further research showed how the new variant could potentially bind to cells which served as the target of antibodies, thus taking a strike against the vaccine when injected in the human body. Scientists revealed their current findings of the new variant, reporting, “At this stage, there is no clear evidence of the new variant being associated with more severe disease or worse outcomes but clinicians are undertaking more studies to establish if this new variant does change the course of the disease.”

It is the scientists’ worst fear for the virus to undergo radically shifting mutations, making it difficult to identify and discover in time its transmissions which may have already reached different areas across UK. This would consequently lead to a higher demand of hospital admittances, overwhelming the nation’s healthcare system. While further research regarding its innate traits are currently at the stage of inspection, the government is faced with an urgent imperative to control its rapid spread with the enforcement of tougher restrictions in cities most severely struck. Six million more people are immediately entering Tier 4 on the 24th of December, introduced to areas including Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and Hampshire. There are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the new variants, but one thing for sure is their aggravated transmission rates, which has prompted a surge in cases.

The capricious mutations of the virus have stimulated a troubling state of national health crisis in the UK. However, the high efficacy levels of the vaccine still proved its capability to develop a strong immune response against the mutation. By the time UK has managed to achieve nationwide vaccination for over half of the entire population, society could possibly see itself shifting to stability with the help of a firmly established herd community. No one can be certain of where society will be directed in the near future, so it is with great significance that one should focus on things that can be changed at the moment. The road to the return of full normalcy is a long and arduous one, but it will be fulfilled one day as humans keep pushing themselves to new extremes in the fight against Covid-19.



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