The Dutch government has suspended all passenger flights from the United Kingdom until 1 Jan 2021 after a case of contamination from a new British mutation of the coronavirus was discovered in the Netherlands.
The mutated variant of the virus, according to British authorities, has a much higher rate of transmission, "up to 70 percent more," according to a statement made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a press conference held yesterday.
"Christmas is not going to be as planned," said Johnson, who was forced to proclaim a new crackdown under the holidays due to the spike in the number of new infections, which is probably caused by the new variant of the covid-19 virus. The Bristish Prime Minister had hoped that the restrictions imposed in November would have reduced the circulation of the virus, allowing an easing of restrictions by Christmas.
As reported in the British newspaper The Guardian, the mutation of a virus itself is not an abnormal occurrence. Viruses mutate all the time, and most of the new variants go extinct. Sometimes they spread without altering the behaviour of the virus. In rare cases, they trigger unpredictable changes.
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"If the new variant had a big impact on the severity of the disease, we would have seen it by now," said Ewan Birney, deputy director general of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and joint director of the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge. "The percentage of hospital cases relative to the number of infections would have plummeted or dropped dramatically. Neither of those things happened, so we can conclude that the impact on the number of serious cases is likely to be modest." As for vaccines, Birney said approved formulas are tested with many variants of the virus in circulation. "So there's every reason to think that the vaccines will still work against this new strain, although it obviously needs to be thoroughly tested."
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