UK Minister Says There Are 4,000 Virus Variants Causing Covid-19; Is the World Ready?

The UK Minister said considering the emergence of thousands of variants, companies like Pfizer and AstraZeneca are now trying to improve the vaccines.

A UK minister said that there are around 4,000 novel Coronavirus variants in the world that can cause COVID-19 and all the vaccine developers including Pfizer, as well as AstraZeneca, are now trying to improve the jabs.

Thousands of novel Coronavirus variants have been documented as the virus mutates, including the UK, South Africa and Brazil variants that appear to be more transmissible.

Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News about the identification of thousands of variants all around the world. According to him, it is unlikely that the currently available vaccines won't be effective against the variants whether the UK or other variants especially when it comes to severe illness and hospitalization.

"All manufacturers, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and others are looking at how they can improve their vaccine to make sure that we are ready for any variant - there are about 4,000 variants around the world of COVID now," he added.

Nadhim Zahawi
Nadhim Zahawi, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Wikimedia commons

Virus Variants and Vaccines

While there are thousands of novel Coronavirus variants around the world, only a few are likely to be important and change the virus to become a massive threat to the world.

The Iraqi-born British politician Zahawi, who is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment since last year, said that the UK has the largest genome sequencing industry. "We are keeping a library of all the variants so that we are ready to respond," said Zahawi.

He also said that the country which has about 50 percent of the world's genome sequencing industry is ready for any challenge that the virus may present.

However, among all these variants, the one found in South Africa is of particular interest because of the mutations to the spike protein—that researchers have targeted to create vaccines, using them to signal the body's immune system to make antibodies to fight the virus.

Simon Clarke, an associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading in England, said: "If you have mutations on the spike protein, it could make that key work more effectively, or it could change the structure of the key ever so slightly so that it can still gain access to our cells, and now antibodies can't bind to it and stop it from working."

Coronavirus
4,000 Coronavirus variant Pixabay

However, despite the mutations and emergence of thousands of new variants of the virus, countries like the UK, US and India have started to vaccinate as many people as possible to put an end to the pandemic.

Even North Korea—which claimed to have zero COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic—has requested vaccines and is expected to receive nearly 2 million AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine doses through COVAX Facility.

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