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LONDON – A variant of the coronavirus originating in Spain has spread throughout Europe and now accounts for the majority of many new cases in the region, according to findings from a new study.
The research, which is due to be published on Thursday and not peer reviewed, reveals how an international team of scientists has closely monitored the coronovirus through its genetic alteration.
Each variant of the coronavirus has its own genetic signature, meaning it can return to the place where it first emerged.
This suggests that a new version of the disease, identified as 20A.EU1 by researchers in Switzerland and Spain, was first seen in Spain in June. The study states that the new version has been recorded in Spain since July at a frequency of more than 40%.
Elsewhere, the new version of Coronovirus has increased from “very low” values before 15 July to 40% to 70% in September in Switzerland, Ireland and the UK. It was also found prevalent in Norway, Latvia, Netherlands and France.
The researchers of the study said that despite the increase in frequency in many countries, there was no direct evidence to suggest new types of the virus spread faster than other mutations.
It also stated that currently there was no data to assess the severity of the disease, and while 20A.EU1 was predominant in some countries, it did not take up everywhere and that “different types of coronovirus” continue to circulate throughout Europe. ”
The authors of the study include researchers from the University of Basel, the Institute of Biomedicine of Valencia and the University of Valencia, among others.
What are the implications?
The study’s findings suggest that people returning from holidays in Spain may have played a role in spreading the new version of the virus across Europe.
It also calls into question whether the recent large increase in the number of newly reported Kovid-19 infections across the region can be capped by stricter travel measures and better screening at air travel and other transport hubs.
The study states that it is currently unclear whether this variant is spreading due to the transmission benefits of the virus or that the high incidence for spread through tourists in Spain is sufficient to increase rapidly in many countries.
A wave of new coronavirus cases in Europe has prompted some countries to implement fresh lockdown measures as winter looms.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday announced a “light lockdown” with bars, restaurants, gyms, cinema and theaters to be closed from next week.
In a similar move, French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed a second nationwide lockout from Friday, with only schools and factories to remain open – unlike in March, when these too were closed.
According to the WHO, Europe has reported around 10 million cases of coronovirus, with 273,678 related deaths.