“There is a concrete suspicion of the British virus strain in the country,” Czech authorities said today in a statement.
The National Reference Laboratory for Influenza (SZÚ) detected the new variant of the coronavirus during the analysis of PCR test results.
“We need to be cautious and monitoring how the epidemic will continue to spread, the mutation is spreading faster,” commented Roman Prymula, epidemiologist and health adviser to the Prime Minister.
“It is not necessary to tighten the anti-epidemic measures. However, there is a certain risk that more contagious mutations will place an even greater burden on hospitals and the health care system.”
“In most European countries the British virus strain is already circulating,” adds Prymula.
The ‘UK variant’
A new variant was reported by U.K. health officials to the World Health Organization on Dec. 14 that is now known formally as “VOC 202012/01” (which stands for “variant of concern, year 2020, month 12, variant 01″).
The variant was first detected in a patient in Kent, southeast England, in September. It then quickly spread to London.
Researchers who’ve measured and modeled the U.K. variant’s powers have found no reason to believe it makes people sicker once it invades their bodies.
Nor does it appear to reduce the time that it takes for a newly infected person to be able to spread the virus — a development that could generate fast-moving waves of new patients.
But other findings are more ominous. Using many distinct methods to track the U.K. variant and compare it to its predecessors, two groups of researchers have concluded that the new strain’s rapid growth across Britain cannot be dismissed as a fluke.
The coronavirus mutations are not unexpected, because all viruses mutate.
There are now several “variants of concern” receiving scrutiny, including ones identified first in South Africa and Brazil, and Czech officials have said genomic surveillance is still ramping up here and that there may be other variants in circulation, not yet identified, that are enhancing transmission.