New Virus Strain

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UNION Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has assured the nation that the government was on alert about the new strain of coronavirus that has emerged in the United Kingdom. He has  asked people not to panic. The new mutant has prompted several countries including India to stop incoming flights from the UK. In India, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has raised concern, so  has Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.  The new variant was first detected in the UK in September. By November around a quarter of cases in London were linked to this  variant. It has caused 1,100 new infections in 60 areas in Britain. The strain code-named as B.1.1.7 is more than 70% more transmissible than existing strains.
This has also raised questions about the efficacy of the vaccines in infections caused by the mutant. At the same time, the medical experts are still studying the new strain.  There is so far no evidence  that the new variant causes disease which is any different from that caused by previous variants.  Though the mutation in the virus appears to be significant, experts have not found any reason to suggest that it would affect the vaccination. The vaccines, it is said, can be tweaked to be effective on new virus strain.
Unlike countries like the UK, the US and Canada,  India has yet to roll out the vaccination on a large scale. On a positive note, the number of infections in India has drastically reduced since the peak of summer when the tally had touched around one lakh. Similarly the mortality rate has gone down in India in the last few days. Some experts are thus even suggesting that India shouldn’t be in a hurry to go for vaccination and wait for the virus to self contain itself as is the case now.
That said, the virus mutant remains a cause of global alarm. On Monday, the stock market in India crashed by 3 percent on new virus fears. This was the first such deep correction since the steep fall in March. If the new mutant triggers a fresh wave of infections, which, in turn, could lead to further economic disruption, this could once again lead to a deeper correction in the stock market.
India did well by banning flights from the UK. It is important that this strain remains confined to the Britain and is treated there. World cannot afford a fresh massive wave of the Covid-19 infections and the consequent lockdowns. Much of the global economy is in recession and further disruption will inflict a bigger blow to already battered businesses. More so, at a time when the economy is showing signs of looking up again.

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