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'New variant' of coronavirus identified

ainsworth74

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Breaking in the last hour as part of Matt Hancock's statement to the House:

A new variant of coronavirus has been identified which may be associated with faster spread, MPs have been told.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at least 60 different local authorities in England have recorded Covid infections caused by the new variant.

He said the World Health Organization had been notified and Porton Down was doing detailed studies.

Mr Hancock said there was "nothing to suggest" it caused worse disease or that vaccines would no longer work.

He told MPs in the House of Commons that over the last week, there had been sharp, exponential rises in the virus across London, Kent, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire.

"We've currently identified over 1,000 cases with this variant predominantly in the South of England although cases have been identified in nearly 60 different local authority areas.

"We do not know the extent to which this is because of the new variant but no matter its cause we have to take swift and decisive action which unfortunately is absolutely essential to control this deadly disease while the vaccine is rolled out."


I'm not sure if there's anything particularly to worry about at this stage but I'm setting up a thread so we can try and keep any relevant discussion in one place ;)
 
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kristiang85

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Absolutely nothing to worry about. Viruses mutate all the time, and of course the variations which spread easier will become more dominant. Also they tend to become less deadly, as obviously the virus doesn't want to kill its hosts, otherwise it will be short lived.

And given how coronavirus variants in general share a lot of genetic code, it will make next to no difference in terms of immunity and vaccine effectiveness.

Hancock shouldn't even have mentioned it, yet he knows what he's doing - the headlines will scream "Coronavirus mutation on the loose in the UK" and people will be scared again. Fear fear fear.

I'm absolutely done with this government now.
 

DavidB

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If it's mutating as suggested, it's not unlikely that sooner or later a variant will emerge which isn't covered by the various vaccines.

No doubt they will use it as an excuse to further stamp on and punish the population at large, in any case - especially whoever their favourite scapgoats of the moment are (usually the hospitality industry).
 

adc82140

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I dread to think what the gutter press will say about this. How irresponsible of the health secretary. This is the sort of thing that scientists should be discussing amongst themselves only.
 

DavidB

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I dread to think what the gutter press will say about this. How irresponsible of the health secretary. This is the sort of thing that scientists should be discussing amongst themselves only.

He knows exactly what he's doing though - this is clearly intended to whip up the paranoia even further.
 

bramling

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Absolutely nothing to worry about. Viruses mutate all the time, and of course the variations which spread easier will become more dominant. Also they tend to become less deadly, as obviously the virus doesn't want to kill its hosts, otherwise it will be short lived.

And given how coronavirus variants in general share a lot of genetic code, it will make next to no difference in terms of immunity and vaccine effectiveness.

Hancock shouldn't even have mentioned it, yet he knows what he's doing - the headlines will scream "Coronavirus mutation on the loose in the UK" and people will be scared again. Fear fear fear.

I'm absolutely done with this government now.

Wall-to-wall on all the news outlets at the moment. I wonder if there’s something negative on the Brexit front which needs to be buried?
 

NorthOxonian

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He knows exactly what he's doing though - this is clearly intended to whip up the paranoia even further.
There could be another reason. Perhaps the government have decided they don't want people gathering over Christmas after all, and so they want to announce a good excuse (because just changing course without one would see them lose face). I'd not bet my life savings on it but it's definitely plausible.
 

Richard Scott

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Sure we've had these sorts of stories before, wasn't there one in Denmark due to mink? Obviously was a non event as not heard of it since. As noted in previous post, mutations happens all the time and usually to a virus which is less deadly so really should be good news but don't let that get in the way of scaring some of the population. Expect a number of people won't care as so fed up with whole virus issue anyway.
 

Mag_seven

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Apparently it was already identified in other countries so why make a big thing about it now?

As other posters have said it all seems to fit into the "project fear" agenda.
 

Richard Scott

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Apparently it was already identified in other countries so why make a big thing about it now?

As other posters have said it all seems to fit into the "project fear" agenda.
So it's been around for a while then if it's in other countries? A total non event in that case.
 

DavidB

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Sure we've had these sorts of stories before, wasn't there one in Denmark due to mink? Obviously was a non event as not heard of it since. As noted in previous post, mutations happens all the time and usually to a virus which is less deadly so really should be good news but don't let that get in the way of scaring some of the population. Expect a number of people won't care as so fed up with whole virus issue anyway.

Yes, but there is likely to be a purpose behind announcing it at this particular time - and I would think that one or both of the previous posters is likely to be right: it'll be a Brexit issue they want to bury and/or dialling back on the christmas relaxation of restrictions.
 

Darandio

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Apparently it was already identified in other countries so why make a big thing about it now?

As other posters have said it all seems to fit into the "project fear" agenda.

So it's been around for a while then if it's in other countries? A total non event in that case.

Because of this, I think it's going to be near enough spot on.

There could be another reason. Perhaps the government have decided they don't want people gathering over Christmas after all, and so they want to announce a good excuse (because just changing course without one would see them lose face). I'd not bet my life savings on it but it's definitely plausible.

Medical officers have been increasingly becoming vocal in the last 48 hours about lifting restrictions at Christmas and that it's not too late to change it. Couple that with pointlessly raising tiers in places for what would just be a few days. Add in an injection of fear with this new strain announcement and it's all far too convenient.
 

kristiang85

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To put this in perspective, in September over 12,000 COVID virus mutations had been catalogued (obviously most of these very small changes in the RNA). Now that number will have increased a lot.

It only matters when the spike protein changes, as this can alter the antibody response, but this would involve a massive change in the virus, which generally doesn't happen in ones of this type, as far as I understand (it can, but it takes a long time).
 

Tracked

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Can't help but think that this has just been mentioned when London's had to go into tier 3, and the way they're trying to spin it is "it's not because we kept London in Tier 2 and chose to let shops reopen just before Christmas, it's a new strain of the virus".
 

adc82140

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Can't help but think that this has just been mentioned when London's had to go into tier 3, and the way they're trying to spin it is "it's not because we kept London in Tier 2 and chose to let shops reopen just before Christmas, it's a new strain of the virus".
And I think we have our answer.
 

ChrisC

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As we come towards 16th December and the first review date for the tiers in England perhaps it is to give a reason why areas of the north and the midlands, which have seen huge falls in infection rates, should not be moved down to Tier 3.
 

21C101

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Seeing a lot of ribald comments about this mutation of the virus originating on the Isle of Sheppey........
 

Paul Kelly

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the way they're trying to spin it is "it's not because we kept London in Tier 2 and chose to let shops reopen just before Christmas, it's a new strain of the virus"
Yes, that was my thoughts on it too - a simplistic attempt at back-covering. I think it's giving them too much credit to suggest the original aim was to increase fear, although that might have seemed like a nice side effect that cemented the decision to mention it.
 

brad465

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Surprise surprise, every major newspaper has this story somewhere on its front page:


 

DavidB

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Surprise surprise, every major newspaper has this story somewhere on its front page:



It's going exactly as the government clearly intended, then! Project Fear in action.

What will be next? Will they follow it up with annoucements tomorrow or the next day that they are going to "have to" impose another lockdown / continue with the current restrictions over christmas?
 

HSTEd

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It's going exactly as the government clearly intended, then! Project Fear in action.

What will be next? Will they follow it up with annoucements tomorrow or the next day that they are going to "have to" impose another lockdown / continue with the current restrictions over christmas?
The Daily mail looks supportive.

Which means it will be announced tomorrow.
 

C J Snarzell

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It's scaremongering yet again. At least there is no Kay Burley on Sky news now to make us all believe we are entering a new apocalypse.

CJ
 

66701GBRF

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And given how coronavirus variants in general share a lot of genetic code, it will make next to no difference in terms of immunity and vaccine effectiveness.
with respect, I don’t think you or anyone else on here is qualified to make an assessment like that at this current point.
 

kristiang85

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with respect, I don’t think you or anyone else on here is qualified to make an assessment like that at this current point.

You can't deny the established virological facts though. It's one of the reasons why exposure to previous coronaviruses does give t-cell immunity to many for COVID - there's plenty of papers out there. And also many sensible scientists commenting on social media since Hancock's speech yesterday are saying the same thing.

Yes, you can get significant mutations in viruses that can jeopardise vaccination and immunity efforts, but this one is very stable generally and there is nothing to suggest this will happen in the short term.

(Also I work in an research group on respiratory diseases, so I do have a bit of experience of this. I'm not an academic, I'm in management, but I know where to look and who to trust more on this kind of thing when thinking critically about what the government tells us).
 
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adc82140

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Yes, you can get significant mutations in viruses that can jeopardise vaccination and immunity efforts, but this one is very stable generally and there is nothing to suggest this will happen in the short term.
Even if we did get significant mutations, the worst that would happen is that a Covid jab would become an annual thing, like the flu vaccine.
 

hwl

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Even if we did get significant mutations, the worst that would happen is that a Covid jab would become an annual thing, like the flu vaccine.
Covid is unusual in that it targets a very unusual cell type as a host to replicate compared to most respiratory viruses so if it does mutate it could easily become less problematic (if it can no longer access those cells so easily) as there can't be that many significant mutations that would effect a vaccine unlike flu (Very different from flu, in some way good, in some ways bad!)
 

PHILIPE

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It's going exactly as the government clearly intended, then! Project Fear in action.

What will be next? Will they follow it up with annoucements tomorrow or the next day that they are going to "have to" impose another lockdown / continue with the current restrictions over christmas?

Just heard a Professor on TV saying Mutt Hancock's Project Fear
 

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