New Covid strain 'not out of control, can be stopped': WHO

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Geneva, Switzerland - World health body gives a reassuring update on the new strain that's emerged in the UK.

By AFP, Reuters

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Published: Mon 21 Dec 2020, 9:38 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Dec 2020, 10:34 PM

The new coronavirus variant discovered in Britain with a higher transmission rate is not yet out of control, the World Health Organization said on Monday, urging measures to help stop its spread.

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"In some senses it means we have to work harder. Even if the virus has become a little bit more efficient in spreading, the virus can be stopped," WHO's emergencies chief Michael Ryan said in a press conference.

"So this situation is not in that sense out of control. But it cannot be left to its own devices."

WHO officials said coronavirus mutations had so far been much slower than with influenza and that even the new UK variant remained much less transmissible than other diseases like mumps.

They said vaccines developed to combat Covid-19 should handle the new variants as well, although checks were under way to ensure this was the case.

"So far, even though we have seen a number of changes, a number of mutations, none has made a significant impact on either the susceptibility of the virus to any of the currently used therapeutics, drugs or the vaccines under development and one hopes that will continue to be the case," WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan told the briefing.

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