The new strain of Covid-19, which recently appeared in the south of the United Kingdom and has since spread to Europe, has no impact on the clinical condition and the vaccine expected in Morocco, Moroccan virologists said Monday.
In a statement to the continuous news channel “M24”, the director of the medical biotechnology laboratory at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy in Rabat, Azeddine Ibrahimi, explained that the coronavirus obeys its own dynamics as a living being that lives, adapts and develops under the effect of external pressures.
The world-famous reference virus, which appeared in Wuhan, China, underwent a first mutation called D 614 G, which has remained the majority virus in all regions of the world to date, he added, stressing that this virus undergoes a new mutation every four days, but without any effect, until the appearance of this new strain, which bears the name N 501 Y.
The spread rate of this new variant, which has appeared in the south of the UK, is 70 pc faster than the previous strain, Ibrahimi noted, adding that this new variant, which appeared last April, “has no impact on the clinical condition of people, as there are, so far, no studies that prove an influence of this new strain on mortality rates and clinical conditions”.
This new variant also has no impact on the vaccines developed so far. “The fear of the appearance of this new strain is normal and usual whenever a mutation takes place, and in the absence of precise information, rumours and fake news flourish, especially on social networks,” Ibrahimi said.
He also noted that “in order to deal with epidemics and pandemics, the worst-case scenario must be adopted”, which has led several countries to suspend their air links with Great Britain, to allow time to get to know this new strain better and prevent it from spreading more rapidly.
Moreover, this new strain of coronavirus is not present in Morocco until today. This has been confirmed by the analysis of more than 100 genomes during the period of the pandemic, and 32 genomes in December alone, Ibrahimi said.
For his part, Moulay Mostafa Naji, director of the virology laboratory at Hassan II-Casablanca University, pointed out that the coronavirus has undergone a total of nine mutations, the latest being the one discovered in the south of the United Kingdom.
This new strain increases the reproduction rate of the virus by almost 70%, which means that 5pc of those infected could be in a critical state of health, putting greater pressure on the health system, he said.
However, the spread of this new strain in Europe “does not mean that it is more ferocious or deadly, wherever it would affect the vaccine that Moroccans are waiting for,” Naji said, pointing out that the vaccine “remains effective, and even if there is an effect, it would only be slight, of the order of 1 to 3%”.
In this respect, he highlighted the vaccine’s efficiency rate, which reaches 96%, bearing in mind that for a vaccine to be considered effective, it is sufficient for this rate to exceed 50%.
In addition, Naji felt that precautionary measures, such as wearing the mask correctly, washing hands regularly and respecting social distancing, remain so far the only way to protect oneself against the virus while waiting for the vaccine to arrive, and even after vaccination, since its effectiveness is reflected in the three months after injection.
He also called on Moroccans to massively adhere to the next vaccination operation so that this vaccine is administered to at least 70% of the population, with a view to “building a collective immunity that will enable us to put an end to this virus once and for all and resume the normal course of our lives”.