The new covid19 variant was first detected in the city of Kent, England in September of 2020. Over the seven months that followed ,it spread to another 50 countries despite attempts new lockdown rules that took effect in the UK in January.
“Once we get on top of it or it mutates itself out of being virulent – causing disease – then we can stop worrying about it. But I think, looking in the future, we’re going to be doing this for years. We’re still going to be doing this 10 years down the line, in my view.”
Sharon Peacock of the Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium
She explained this was not because she thought the pandemic would go on for 10 years, but she believed they would be sequencing new variants for that length of time. 5-10% of positive covid tests are selected randomly to be sent on for further genome analysis. A number of the variants have special features that make them more transmissible, more deadly, and more complicated to deal with (vaccines).
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