New COVID Strain Spreads Throughout Europe

The new variant of COVID-19 that first appeared in the United Kingdom has emerged in several other European nations. Policymakers had previously labeled the variant as being ‘out of control’, prompting over 40 nations to suspend flights to the UK. 

At least within some parts of Europe, efforts at containing the spread have apparently proven futile. Indeed, they may have been futile even before being instituted, for some scientists have said that the new variant was likely circulating in other nations before the UK, and the only reason it was spotted in the UK first was because of the nation’s robust surveillance system. 

A number of nations instituted even harsher travel bans to stop the potential spread. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman all completely closed their borders for a week. Meanwhile, Japan has blocked entry into the nation until the end of January, but makes exceptions for Japanese citizens and non-citizen residents. 

Spain, Sweden, France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland all reported cases of the new COVID strain. None of these nations have yet begun the rollout of their vaccination programs, although Spain, Germany, and France are set to begin vaccinations on Sunday, joining fellow EU nation Hungary, who have already started administering vaccinations. 

The new variant of the novel coronavirus is rapidly replacing other variants of the virus and is up to 70% more infectious than the standard strain, but there is no evidence to suggest that it is deadlier or causes more severe symptoms. In addition, vaccine experts believe that the current vaccines being used to immunize against the standard strain of COVID-19 should also work for the new strain.