Could it be easier to transmit?
The spike in virus cases in Europe at the moment is dramatic and that may be due to lockdown fatigue and lower restrictions, but it could also be due to a different variant.
A study published today says the variant in Europe is 20A.EU1 and originated in north-east Spanish farm workers.
“From the spread of 20A.EU1, it seems clear that the [virus prevention] measures in place were often not sufficient to stop onward transmission of introduced variants this summer,” said Emma Hodcroft, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Basel and lead author of the study, which is yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The research showed that the new variant accounted for more that eight out of 10 cases in the UK, 80% of cases in Spain, 60% in Ireland and up to 40% in Switzerland and France.
What researchers don’t know yet is if this variant has any new characteristics; whether it’s easier to transmit or more/less deadly. A different variant called D614G, has been identified which is believed to make the virus more infectious.