Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands have announced flight cancelations to and from the UK following concerns about VUI – 202012/01, a variant of COVID-19 which may be spreading at a rapid pace.
This different version of coronavirus may be raising transmission by around 70% and boosting the Reproduction Rate (R) by between 0.39 and 0.93. The new variant the mutation N501Y belongs to the B.1.1.7 predominant lineage and features increased binding affinity to the hACE2 receptor.
It has been identified by the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium. Another British committee, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) has advised Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the severity of the spread.
At the time of writing, there is no evidence that this mutation is more dangerous, nor that it is resistant to any of the covid vaccinations that are tested or already administered. According to NERVTAG, more data will become available in the coming days. The group also states that other countries "have less sequencing capacity than the UK" – suggesting it could be spreading in other countries without close tracking.
The UK put London and the surrounding area under severe Tier 4 recommendations on Saturday.
GBP/USD has closed the week at 1.3521 and moved mostly in response to the Brexit headline. The unfolding of coronavirus-related developments could weigh on the pound at the beginning of the Christmas week.
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