The super mutated variant with the ability to bypass defences provided by vaccines is now predicted to make its way to the UK in the coming weeks.
Potentially more deadly than the Delta variant
Since news broke out that the concerning variant could very well ravage nations with its ability to camouflage itself from the body's immune system, travel restrictions have been into place. But experts believe these new measures will only delay the time before it makes its way to British soil. Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, explained that:
The extremely long branch length and incredibly high amount of spike mutations suggest this could be of real concern. [The strain could be] worse antigenically than nearly anything else about, including the Delta variant, which has wreaked havoc all across the globe.
Countries added to the red list
As of today, the UK has added six African countries to the red list, with certain flights temporarily banned and strict quarantine measures back into place for those returning from at-risk destinations. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed that the six countries now on the UK's red list include: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini. In a statement, he said:
What we do know is there's a significant number of mutations, perhaps double the number of mutations that we have seen in the Delta variant. And that would suggest that it may well be more transmissible and the current vaccines that we have may well be less effective.
This could potentially mean that more restrictions are on their way for Brits, to try to avoid the repercussions of this newly discovered coronavirus variant.