RÚV reports that 11 people were diagnosed with what is being called the “British variant” of coronavirus before Christmas. The 11 were diagnosed following screening at the border. 10 of the diagnosed were from the UK, whilst one was from Denmark. This information comes from a civil defence briefing, where the Medical Director of Health, Alma Möller, spoke about the new coronavirus strain.
Since the new strain of coronavirus was identified in the UK, health officials across the world have been concerned as to what this could mean for the future of the global pandemic. This new variant reportedly spreads faster than the original coronavirus strain (the infection rate is up to 0.5 higher, according to estimates). Concern about this, as well as high numbers of covid cases, has led to tighter lockdown restrictions in the UK. Alma pointed out though, that despite the measures the UK has taken to quell the spread of coronavirus, the new variant has still managed to spread throughout the UK and abroad.
However, Alma also made it clear that it is not yet known if the mutations observed in the new strain of coronavirus will impact the effectiveness of the vaccine. Likewise, it is unknown whether those we have already had coronavirus are immune to the new variant.
It is likely that the vaccine that has already been developed for the first strain will also be effective in protecting against this new variant. Failing that, though, the CEO of BioNTech has reported that it would be possible for the company to develop a new vaccine for this new strain in as little as six weeks.
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