In DepthCOVID-19

Viral evolution may herald new pandemic phase

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Science  08 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6525, pp. 108-109
DOI: 10.1126/science.371.6525.108


For COVID-19 researchers, this year brings a strong sense of déjà vu. As in early 2020, the world is anxiously watching a virus spread in one country and trying to parse the risk for everyone else. This time it is not a completely new threat, but a rapidly spreading variant of SARS-CoV-2. In southeastern England, where the B.1.1.7 variant was first detected last month, it has quickly replaced other variants, and it may be the harbinger of a new, particularly perilous phase of the pandemic. The concern has led some countries to speed up vaccine authorizations or discuss dosing regimens that may protect more people rapidly. But as the new variant surfaces in multiple countries, many scientists are calling for governments to strengthen existing control measures as well.

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