- Days before Christmas, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced there’s a new, mutated, up to 70% more infectious, strain of SARS-CoV-2 on the loose. As a result, London and the southeastern parts of England were placed under new, more severe, lockdown restrictions than previously voted on by Parliament
- To prevent spread of the new strain, The Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Bulgaria and Ireland have issued travel restrictions from the U.K.
- The mutated strain, referred to in some places as B117 and in others as VUI-202012/01, began popping up in patient samples collected in September 2020 across southern England
- The virus has 23 mutations, several of which affect how the virus attaches to and infects human cells, potentially making it more virulent. There is as of yet no evidence that it causes more serious disease or increases the risk of death
- B117 is said to be up to 70% more contagious than previous variants circulating in the U.K., but British scientists and MPs question this and have demanded the data be made public so the threat can be assessed. Children are also said to be more susceptible to this new strain, although no data has been released on this either