Amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, which has grappled the whole world by infecting over 44 million people and killing more than 1 million, there seems to be one more reason to worry about.
In a new research, scientists have found a Covid variant that originated in Spanish farm workers and has spread rapidly through much of Europe since the summer, and now accounts for the majority of new Covid-19 cases in several countries — and more than 80% in the UK.
The research, which is not yet peer reviewed, details on how an international team of scientists has closely monitored the coronavirus through its genetic mutations.
It says a new variant of Covid-19, identified as 20A.EU1 by researchers, was first observed in Spain in June. The new variant has been recorded there at frequencies of above 40% since July.
The scientists point out that the new “virus variant was exported from Spain to other European countries multiple times and that much of the diversity of this cluster in Spain is observed across Europe.”
“Outside of Spain, the frequency of this variant has increased from very low values prior to 15th July to 40-70% in Switzerland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom in September,” they said.
It is currently unclear whether this variant is spreading because of a transmission advantage of the virus or whether high incidence in Spain followed by dissemination through tourists is sufficient to explain the rapid rise in multiple countries, the research adds.
The research also said there was currently no data to assess the severity of the disease, and while 20A.EU1 was dominant in some countries, it had not taken over everywhere and diverse variants of the coronavirus “continue to circulate across Europe.”
The authors of the study comprised researchers from the University of Basel, the Biomedicine Institute of Valencia, and the University of Valencia, among others.