The head of Germany's Robert Koch Institute Lothar Wieler has stated that reports about growing numbers of cases and outbreaks of new coronavirus variants continue to emerge across the world. Wieler, speaking at an RKI briefing, further revealed that PCR tests may be utilised to detect specific coronavirus strains in patients.
The latest situation report by the RKI said that all three new variants of COVID-19 originally found in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil, have been detected in Germany. The report also stated that the South African variant of the coronavirus has "displaced" other strains of the disease in the country. The RKI suggested that this might be indicative of the possible increased virulence of the South African variant.
The UK variant of the disease is currently attracting most of the attention amid preliminary reports that it may be more virulent and thus spread faster. There has so far been no clear evidence to suggest that it is more deadly than other variants. Scientists are currently evaluating whether the existing coronavirus vaccines are effective against the UK variant. Several pharmaceutical companies have already alleged that their shots will be as effective against the new variant as it is against the original strain.
The new virulent strain of the virus was discovered in the UK in the middle of December 2020, with the number of people carrying it growing rapidly in southeastern England. This prompted the UK authorities to assume that the new variant can spread faster than its predecessor and introduced a stricter lockdown, Tier 4. Following the announcement of the new variant's existence, numerous states, mostly in Europe, announced the closure of their borders with the UK, cancelling flights and trains from the country. However, these measures failed to prevent the new variant from entering the EU and spreading around nations there.