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The Covid variant first detected in southern Africa has been now identified in Chelmsford and Nottingham. The new strain named after a Greek letter was declared as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation on Friday.
This new variant has more than 30 mutations on its spike protein, which is likened to a key that Covid uses to unlock our cells.
Compared to the Delta variant, the number of mutations in Omicron is more than double the amount.
These various mutations have fuelled growing fears about vaccine immunity matching the new variant.
However, two of the world’s largest coronavirus vaccine producers have claimed they can update their jabs to respond to the variant if needed.
Preliminary evidence also suggests that this new variant may pose an increased risk of reinfection.
Even though specific symptoms of Omicron are yet to be reported, here’s a reminder of known coronavirus symptoms to watch out for.
These are the most current symptoms, according to the ZOE COVID study app:
If you’re experiencing any of these coronavirus symptoms, the Government’s advice is to stay at home and self-isolate immediately.
You should also get a PCR test as this is the most reliable way to confirm whether you have coronavirus.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said in a statement: “It is important that everyone takes sensible precautions.
“Get a PCR test if you have symptoms, isolate when asked, wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, ventilate rooms, get your vaccine and boosters as soon as you can.”
Later this evening, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to hold a COVID-19 press conference, as reported by Politics For All.
The cases identified in the UK, come after, the news of the variant reaching Belgium.
The individuals infected with the new strain in the UK are currently self-isolating along with their households.
Their close contacts are being followed up and asked to self-isolate and test.
Now, passengers arriving from Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Angola will be asked to follow the set hotel quarantine as these countries are being added to the UK’s travel red list.
Currently, scientists are looking into how effectively antibodies can neutralise the new strain.
They expect that vaccines can still be effective just might offer less protection. But nothing has been confirmed yet.
The vaccine producers have already reacted to this news. With Moderna saying they have advanced their strategy regarding new variants.
Novavax explained they are already in the early stages of developing a new recombinant spike protein based on the known genetic sequence of Omicron, which should be ready for testing within the next few weeks.
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