MoH to meet today over new UK coronavirus strain

Covid-19: Union Health Ministry to meet on December 21 on new coronavirus strain in the UK

UK PM Johnson yesterday in his national address said that the new strain is 70% more transmissible

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. Credit: PTI Photo

The Union Health Ministry on Monday will hold an urgent meeting of the joint monitoring group to review the emergence of a new variant of Covid-19 in the UK and South Africa, on the basis of which a decision may be taken on the UK-India air bubble.

The joint monitoring group chaired by the Director-General of Health Services would discuss the issue of the mutated variant of the coronavirus strain, which led to a surge in infection rate in parts of the UK. The World Health Organisation’s India representative Roderico H Ofrin, a member of the JMG, is likely to participate in the meeting.

Also Read | UK cancels ‘Christmas bubble’ as new coronavirus variant accelerates

For the last few months, India and UK are operating a dedicated travel corridor under which Indian and British carriers are allowed to operate commercial flights. With several European countries cutting their air links to the UK, the Centre needs to take a call on the UK-India air bubble.

The same variant with mutations that give the virus an ability to infect cells more efficiently and thus show increased transmission has also been reported from South Africa.

“The new information on antigenic drift in the UK and South Africa definitely changes everything what we understand about this virus. We have entered a territory where the virus is trying to find a way to survive while the human beings are trying to duck it with vaccines. That’s when it tries to survive by changing genetic lineage,” Giridhar Babu, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Foundation of India told DH.