No case for panic over new virus strain–economic times

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The World Health Organisation has held out the assurance that the new mutant strain of the coronavirus causing Covid is not a new plague and that identification of its evolution and spread in the UK offers proof of the additional capacity healthcare systems have gained in tracking and tracing the disease.

Stock markets have, for the most part, rallied around the world, and even in the case of indices that have dropped, their futures markets are gaining. The government has done right to assuage fears over the new strain of the coronavirus. Viruses mutate.

That is why it has been so hard to develop a vaccine for HIV that causes AIDS. However, there should be no cause for alarm unless the vaccine fails to produce immunity against this new variant. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, authorised by the USFDA, create immunity to the coronavirus by equipping the immune system to make antibodies to the spike protein that rests on the virus.

Research is now underway to analyse the changes to the structure of the spike protein to figure out if the new variant will be able to skirt the vaccine. Given that information on the severity of the variant is limited, it makes sense to wait for evidence-based research outcomes and more data to become available.

People must get tested, isolated and their contacts traced to stop any possible spread of the new variant. Rightly, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control advocates public health authorities and laboratories to analyse and sequence virus isolates in a timely way to identify new cases, follow-up on suspected cases of Covid-19, monitor vaccinated individuals to identify any failure or break through infections, and ensure strict adherence to safety norms. There is no need to panic

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Economic Times.


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