The world remains at the heart of the COVID-19 health crisis, with 78 million people worldwide having been infected with the virus since the start of the crisis. Nearly 1.8 million people have died and cases continue to rise steadily.
The emergence of several vaccines led many to emerge at the end of the crisis. Countries are launching large-scale vaccination campaigns that aim to gradually stop the spread of the virus. International markets have responded to growing optimism, but the emergence of three new strains has complicated matters.
The British strain that was first detected last week is no more deadly than the original strain, but it is much more contagious. In the UK, the discovery of the strain may have saved lives over the holiday season as the government abruptly canceled a five-day lift of measures around Christmas. And yet, as more people have stayed at home, the virus is likely to spread faster due to the mutations.
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This week another strain appeared in South Africa.
The new mutation is significantly different from the original COVID-19 and is the main source of resurgence of cases in the country. The South African government has introduced new restrictions, including a curfew and the closure of public beaches. However, the atmosphere in South Africa remains “festive” around the Christmas holidays, according to Al Jazeera.
On December 24, the African Center for Disease Control reported another mutation in the COVID-19 virus. This time, the new strain appeared in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. “It’s a distinct lineage from the UK and South Africa,” African CDC chief John Nkengasong told reporters on Thursday.
Initial results show that the Nigerian variant is not as contagious as the South African and British variants, despite a 52% increase in cases in Nigeria over the past week. The British variant has also since appeared in France and Lebanon.
Doctors around the world have reassured worried citizens that vaccination campaigns will go as planned. There is no evidence that the new strains are in any way resistant to the vaccines currently in production.