France Bans Travel From UK After New COVID Strain Takes Hold

France Bans Travel From UK After New COVID Strain Takes Hold

( – The UK has been swiftly isolated from Europe and several other countries after a new, possibly more infectious, strain of COVID-19 emerged. Governments say they want to stop the new variant from spreading – but some claim the travel bans, especially the harsh French response, are just political theater aimed at a very different goal.

The new virus strain, which goes by the snappy title VUI-202012/01, was first detected in September. However, it’s no more severe than the 50,000 other known strains, and nobody suggested it might be more infectious until last Friday. Many experts are still skeptical that VUI-202012/01 spreads faster, with leading German virologist Christian Drosten dismissing claims of a 70% higher transmission rate. “Nobody even knows what it means,” he said.

An Economic Pretext

France and other European states shut down travel from the UK on December 20, saying they want to protect their citizens – but VUI-202012/01 is already in Europe. France went further, shutting their ports to British freight. British conservatives say France’s real goal is to pressure the UK into signing a bad Brexit trade deal.

It’s unlikely VUI-202012/01 even originated in the UK. The reason it was first detected there is simple – the UK is the undisputed leader in viral genome sequencing, spending almost as much on it as the rest of the world combined. The Brits found VUI-202012/01 because they were looking harder. As London’s Daily Telegraph said on Monday, “Britain is being punished for alerting the world to a new crisis.”

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