MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. A mutation of the coronavirus detected in the UK is insignificant and does not influence the effectiveness of diagnostic tools, pharmaceuticals and vaccines, Melita Vujnovic, World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Russia, said in an interview with TASS on Friday.
"To date, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has mutated very insignificantly and its changes so far do not influence the effectiveness of the existing diagnostic tools, medicinal preparations and vaccines being developed," she said.
According to her, the WHO recommends to continue implementation of all basic medical and social measures including testing and tracking the contacts with the subsequent isolation as well as individual measures of protection, such as hand hygiene, physical distancing and wearing a mask. "The WHO recommends to all countries to increase the sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 viruses if possible and to exchange information on sequences at an international level, for instance, report the detection of similar mutations that cause concern," the WHO representative added.
On December 14, Britain’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said British scientists had identified a new coronavirus strain that might be to blame for high infection rates in southeastern England. On December 19, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that, according to the current findings, the new strain might be 70% more contagious, however, there is no proof yet of a greater risk of lethal outcome.
About 50 countries, including the majority of the EU states, Russia, Australia, Argentina, Canada and Turkey, announced a temporary suspension of the air service with the UK due to the new strain detected there. Expert of the World Health Organization Maria Van Kerkhove stated that the mutated version was detected in southeastern England back in September and later spread to Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia.