Should we be worried with the new strain of coronavirus found in the UK?

It is more than a year ago when a pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus burst in Wuhan, China. Many lives have been affected and even lost because of how deadly it can be. 

Every day, hundreds of cases are adding up to the world’s tally. No cure has yet to be made but the good news is there are already vaccines showing promising effectiveness in combating the disease. With this, everyone became very optimistic with the possible end of the pandemic not until a new type of coronavirus causing COVID-19 was found in the United Kingdom.

It was on September 20, 2020, when this new variant called B.1.1.7 was detected by the scientists in the UK. Health authorities even link this existence of the new version of the virus with the sudden rise of COVID-19 cases in the country. Thus, strict tiers and harsher restrictions were implemented in Scotland, England, and Wales pushing the UK to impose a travel ban.

Other countries are also starting to close their borders to visitors coming from the UK. But the question is, is there really a reason for the entire world to be alarmed with this new kind of virus? 

To answer that, here’s some of the information we need to be aware of about the new variant.

The new variant is more transmissible than the virus that was first detected in Wuhan, China

Based on studies, the new variant of the virus easily infect human cells and replicate faster in the human body. UK officials even said that the new strain is 70 percent more transmissible than the original strain. This means that the new variant can spread faster and could be more contagious than its previous version. The reproductive rate has also been noted to increase from 1.1 to 1.5. In simple terms, as per estimation, each individual infected with the new strain can infect another 1.5 people.

Just this December, cases attributed by the new variant inflated to 1,108 in the UK. However, it is still not yet clear if the spread of the new strain is actually caused by mutation or human behavior.

It is now spreading outside the UK

The new  variant can not only be found now in the UK but also in other countries and continents. According to the World Health Organization, the new strain was also detected in Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, and Australia. Other reliable reports also state that the mutation is already present in Canada, France, South Africa, Spain, Italy, Germany,Switzerland, Sweden, Lebanon, Nigeria, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Philippines

The new variant does not cause severe disease

Although it is too early to proclaim, WHO said that the new variant is not more deadly compared to the original virus. There is no evidence to prove that it causes severe diseases. As a matter of fact, according to scientists, people who get infected with the new variant do not seem to get any sicker. 

Although the transmissibility rate rises whenever there is virus mutation, experts say that in some cases, virulence and mortality rate also drop and this could also happen on the emergence of the new variant.

Vaccines may still be effective against the new variant

Several tests must still be done to determine if the developed vaccines for COVID-19 will also be effective against the new variant. But as of now, experts and scientists said that there are no signs that available vaccines will not work against the new strain. 

The US pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna, stated that the coronavirus has already mutated before and their studies found that their vaccines worked in other variants of the virus thus they are confident that their vaccines will also be effective against the newly found strain.

The new variant may or may not worsen the pandemic

Experts say that even though the new variant is more transmissible, it does not necessarily mean that it would change the intensity of the pandemic. The answer to whether our current situation will worsen because of  this virus mutation will still depend on different factors, most importantly human behavior. 

People in various communities must abide by the safety health protocols  to effectively combat the pandemic. This includes wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and limiting social gathering. If health protocols are neglected, it would really be hard to predict the course of the pandemic in the following days.


There are really reasons for the world to be alarmed with the emergence of the new variant. It is just right to be concerned and worried about our well-being. When the pandemic started, only few immediately took action that is why many of us are suffering right now. 

Although they say that the new variant is not that deadly, the danger is still there since it can easily be passed on from one person to another. That is why, as early as now policymakers and ordinary citizens must take necessary interventions to prevent  the original virus and the new variant from spreading. We should not wait for the worst events to happen for us to move and do some actions. We may not stop the virus from mutating, but at least we have the capability to end this pandemic.

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