Like any virus COVID-19 is subject to changes in its genetic code as it spreads from person to person. One such mutation, named VUI-202012/01, is defined by a set of 17 changes or mutations. The most significant is an N501Y mutation in the spike protein that the virus uses to bind to the human ACE2 receptor. According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, changes in this protein suggest the virus has become up to 70% more infectious and spreads more easily between people. It is suspected that this change led to the second spike in COVID cases seen in December 2020, particularly in the South East and London.
According to a study by the Office for National Statistics approximately 65% of confirmed cases in the South East of England tested positive for the new variant. It is not yet known if this new variant is any more dangerous in terms of its lethality but it is evident that it poses enough of a risk for the UK government to enact another 6-week lockdown beginning on Wednesday the 4th of January.
In light of these mutations, it is unclear whether the current vaccines will need to be adapted in order to remain 100% effective. What is clear however, is that it is more important than ever to maintain a strict sanitisation routine to ensure the safety of employees. No matter the strain of COVID-19, UV-C remains one of the most effective means of killing the virus. By targeting the genetic material of the virus, UV-C causes significant damage to the RNA rendering it dead or inactivated in seconds. RNA converts code given by DNA into proteins in order to carry out cellular functions.
The UVD Robot continues to be the best solution for deploying UV-C into all manner of environments, quickly and safely. NESA Robotics has already deployed these robots into Heathrow Airport, St Pancras and UK Power Networks.