Is the British variant some sort of new supervirus?

No. It’s only one variation amongst many who have arisen because the coronavirus has unfold world wide. Mutations come up as a virus replicates, and this variant — often called B.1.1.7 — has acquired its personal distinctive set of them.

Is it extra contagious than different viruses?

It seems so. In preliminary work, researchers in Britain have discovered that the virus is spreading shortly in components of southern England, displacing a crowded discipline of different variants which were circulating for months.

Nonetheless, a virus lineage’s changing into extra frequent is just not proof that the lineage spreads quicker than others. It may develop extra widespread merely by luck. As an example, a variant would possibly begin out in the midst of a crowded metropolis, the place transmission is simple, permitting it to make extra copies of itself. Nonetheless, the epidemiological proof gathered so removed from England does appear to recommend that this variant is excellent at spreading.

Does it trigger extra extreme illness?

There isn’t a sturdy proof that it does, a minimum of not but. However there may be cause to take the chance critically. In South Africa, one other lineage of the coronavirus has gained one specific mutation that can also be present in B.1.1.7. This variant is spreading shortly by coastal areas of South Africa. And in preliminary research, docs there have discovered that folks contaminated with this variant carry a heightened viral load. In lots of viral illnesses, that is related to extra extreme signs.

Will the variant render the brand new vaccines ineffective?

No. Most specialists doubt that it’ll have any nice impression on vaccines, though it’s not but attainable to rule out any impact.


That’s it for this briefing. See you tomorrow.

— Natasha


Thanks
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh offered the break from the information. You possibly can attain the group at briefing@nytimes.com.

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