New ‘super mutant’ COVID variants may emerge, Cambridge University expert warns
Despite the success of the UK’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, with more than half of all adults having received a jab, the scientist fear that a third wave is going to be inevitable.
The hopes of restrictions ending on 21 June are dwindling as highly transmissible variant, first detected in India, continues to spread in many parts of the UK.
The Indian variant is highly transmissible, is spreading across Britain and has become the dominant strain in some parts of the country.
According to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), it is a realistic possibility that there could be a third wave of Covid with a peak of 10,000 hospitalisations per day, assuming no changes are made to the roadmap. There have already been some signs of a slight rise in hospitalisations in some parts of the country.
As fears of a third wave mount, British holidaymakers are bracing themselves for a second year without a break abroad. The government may have to continue the restrictions on foreign holidays as travelling abroad may bring people into contact with other variants of the virus, sabotaging gains made so far.
New Super Mutant strains
A Super mutant Coronavirus variants that are more infectious may emerge as vaccinations increase, waned Professor Ravi Gupta, Professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge
When asked about how to prepare for future variants, Prof Gupta told a press briefing: “I think that we have good vaccines.
“Now we need to keep the pressure on vaccine designers, manufacturers to adapt vaccines.”
He added: “Secondly, the virus is going to do some weird things. I mean, this is just the beginning.
“It’s hard to say what is going to happen, but the virus is going to find ways of becoming more infectious – you can see that already, when it’s under pressure it will try and be more efficient in transmission so that it can achieve the job with fewer virus particles.”
Referring to some of the mutations seen in the variant first detected in India, the expert said they are “just the beginning” and that there will be further changes to the virus, not only for antibody escape but to increase transmissibility.
“I think it’s going to recombine, you’re going to get super mutant viruses” he said.
WHO names Indian variants as ‘Kappa’ and ‘Delta’
The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the B.1.617.1 variant of the Covid 19 as ‘Kappa’ while the B1.617.2 variant was dubbed ‘Delta.’ Both the variants were first found in India.
The WHO’s move came after India objected to the B.1.617 mutant of the novel Coronavirus being termed an “Indian Variant” in media reports. The WHO has never used the term “Indian” for this strain in its document.
In a statement, the UN health agency said on that an expert group convened by WHO has recommended labelling using letters of the Greek Alphabet, i.e., Alpha, Beta, Gamma, which will be easier and more practical to discuss by non-scientific audiences.