NUSADAILY.COM -LONDON- Britain will share its genome sequencing capabilities with other countries to help more quickly identify new variants of the coronavirus in places with less ability to perform genome sequencing, Britain’s health ministry said on Tuesday.
A new variant of the coronavirus has alarmed scientists.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned of the prospect of a “vaccine-busting” variant which means lockout measures are needed for longer and new travel restrictions are in placed.
The UK says it has performed more than half of the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences submitted to the global database, and will launch a New Variant Assessment Platform that can be used for coronavirus variants as well as future pandemics.
“Our New Variant Assessment Platform will help us better understand the virus and how it is spread, and will also increase the global capacity to understand the coronavirus, so we are better prepared for anything in the future,” Health Minister Matt Hancock said in a speech. at Chatham House, according to excerpts issued by the health ministry.
The three main variants of concern identified so far are found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. All three variants are considered more transmitted.
Variants found in the UK can also be linked to higher mortality, although the evidence available is uncertain.
Scientists have also highlighted particular concerns that the vaccine may not work well against variants found in South Africa and Brazil.
Moderna said on Monday that it was confident the COVID-19 vaccine protects against british and South African variants, although it will test new booster injections aimed at the South African variant after concluding the antibody response can be reduced.
British health ministers and health officials said they were confident the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines launched in the country were working against the BRITISH variant. (sak/ant)