The unstoppable advance of the B117 variant puts the UK in check

A new variant of the coronavirus, first detected in southern England in September, is now the cause of the majority of COVID-19 infections in the UK.. It is known as B117 and, the first investigations suggest that its fatality rate is higher than that of the classical pathogen. Doctors checked its rapid spread in December.

“If you have a virus whose chance of contagion is 70% higher than a previous one, which was very contagious, and you don’t stop it, it will spread. This has happened,” says Dr. Kathrina Crystallis.

E**In the UK more than ** 100,000 people due to coronavirus. It is the highest rate in Europe. January is, so far, the month with the most deaths.

Boris Johnson’s detractors point out that he could have acted earlier, in December. Keir Starmer, leader of the Labor Party, called for strict confinement to prevent people from visiting relatives at Christmas. Boris Johnson scoffed at it.

“Mr. Speaker, I wish you had the guts to say what you really want to do, which is, cancel people’s plans and cancel Christmas,” replied Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

For some of the UK’s leading immunologists, the big lesson to be learned about the new variant is that you have to be more cautious.

“In all the parts of the country where this variant has become common, there has been an increase in hospital admissions, an increase in the number of cases. It is becoming increasingly difficult to control the spread of the virus with the kinds of measures that previously worked“says Peter Openshaw, an immunologist at Imperial University.

In the London Metropolitan University laboratory, Dr. Gary Mclean and his team study how pathogens evolve. They claim that mutations like B117 arise when viruses are allowed to spread.

“We knew that the coronavirus could mutate, we knew it could change its genome. What we did not expect it is these new variants appeared that gave him a huge advantage in transmission“says Gary McLean, Ph.D. and Professor of Molecular Immunology.

“The UK is in the midst of a national ‘shutdown’ and that helps lower the levels of the B117 variant in the community. But ultimately, many believe that it is the inability of the government to take action earlier, which has led to the rapid spread of this particular version of the coronavirus“says Luke Hanrahan, Euronews correspondent in England.

For relatives of some of the people who died during the first wave of the pandemic, Johnson’s decision to order confinement later than other European nations was a mistake.

“I consider that, in December, the Government repeated the mistakes it made in the first wave of the pandemic. It affects me personally because I can’t help but think: would my father still be here, if they had confined us a couple of weeks before? “Asks Lobby Akinnola, a relative of a deceased due to the coronavirus.

Early tests show that vaccines are currently working against the B117 variant. UK experts consider that restrictions must remain until all residents have been vaccinated.