The Covid-19 variant, which was first detected in the UK’s Kent last year, is set to become the dominant strain and is going to sweep the world, the head of the UK’s genetic surveillance programme said.
“The new variant has ‘swept the country’ and ‘it’s going to sweep the world, in all probability’,” Sharon Peacock, Director of Covid-19 Genomics UK (Cog-UK) told the BBC.
“Once we get on top of it or it mutates itself out of being virulent — causing disease — then we can stop worrying about it. But I think, looking in the future, we’re going to be doing this for years. We’re still going to be doing this 10 years down the line, in my view,” Peacock added.
Peacock also said vaccines approved for use in the UK appeared to work well against the existing variants of the virus in the country, the BBC reported on Thursday.
This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the Covid-19 variant, known as B.1.1.7, has been reported in 86 countries.
In its weekly epidemiological update, WHO says the variant B.1.1.7 has shown an increase in transmissibility, and some evidence of increase in disease severity based on preliminary findings.
As of February 7, an additional six countries have reported cases of this variant.
A new study also suggested the UK variant is spreading rapidly across the US, raising concerns over another resurgence in the hardest-hit country.