(Al Jazeera) A highly infectious strain of coronavirus first detected in southeast England last September has now spread to more than 80 countries, and there are warnings it will “sweep the world”.
Experts believe the B.1.1.7 variant could be between 30 and 70 percent more infectious, and about 30 percent more lethal, than other versions of the novel coronavirus in circulation.
B.1.1.7 is defined by 23 mutations from the original strain of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.
After being recorded in Kent, the variant quickly became the dominant strain of all infections in the United Kingdom.
It is not yet known whether the variant actually emerged in Kent, a county near London described as the “garden of England”, because of its fruit-filled orchards and rolling countryside, or was simply first detected there.