By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
WITH a new strain of COVID-19 spreading in parts of England, a Bahamian health official said the public should continue to follow recommended health measures to avoid infection as virus mutations can happen.
According to the BBC, the new COVID-18 variant in the United Kingdom is “spreading more rapidly than the original version, but it is not believed to be more deadly”. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted that “it appears to spread more easily and may be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the earlier strain.”
This new strain prompted a wave of new restrictions in parts of England, throwing a wrench in Christmas plans for millions.
Dr Nikkiah Forbes, director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme at the Ministry of Health, sought to temper any anxiety over the news. She told The Tribune that there was no information to suggest a vaccine would not work against this new strain, while urging people to follow recommended health protocols to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
She said: “Scientists are studying it currently …(at the time) as it was reported there’s no evidence to say that it is more infectious at this time. So it can be postulated that there were changes in the spikes of protein in COVID of the SARS virus. It could become easier for people to get it, but there’s no proof of that.”
She added: “There is no information yet that vaccines won’t work against this new strain. There’s no information to say that for sure. However, we do know that in terms of usual adaptation, viruses can mutate and so that’s why persons should continue to follow public health precautions because there are new strains out there that certainly people can get.”
Dr Forbes said scientists have had reports “over the past few weeks” about the new strain of COVID-19 in the UK.
A number of countries, including Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, and Israel – have banned travel from the UK as a result of the new strain.