'The situation is out of control': a new, more contagious strain of coronavirus identified
More and more countries are stopping rail and air links with the UK because of the new VUI-202012/01 coronavirus strain, the first cases of which were recorded there. Writes about it Air force.
The new strain is more infectious and spreads faster than the previous one. However, there is as yet no evidence that it causes high mortality.
Outside of Britain, more than 10 cases of the new strain have already been found in Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia and Italy.
The emergence of a new strain alerted the World Health Organization, whose experts are in constant contact with British specialists.
UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said that the situation with the new strain of coronavirus "got out of control" of the authorities. The mutated virus spreads very quickly.
According to him, the government had to "act decisively." Enhanced measures can last for several months until vaccination begins.
Which countries have closed posts?
Among the countries that have closed communications with Britain are France, Germany, Austria, the Baltic states, Switzerland and Turkey.
The Netherlands said it would cut off flights with Britain until January 1.
France decided to stop accepting passenger flights from Britain for two days. Also, road traffic is prohibited, including the movement of trucks. Thousands of trucks run between countries every day.
The German government has confirmed a ban on passenger flights from Britain until December 31.
Italy decided not to accept flights from Britain until January 6, and Turkey and Switzerland have temporarily banned all flights from the UK.
Israel has barred all but Israelis from entering Britain.
Ukraine will not close communications with Britain yet, but the government should consider this issue, Channel 5 reports with reference to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.
Russia will suspend flights with the UK from midnight on December 22 for one week, the Federal Coronavirus Operations Headquarters said. Writes about it "Jellyfish".
According to the headquarters, the situation with the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus is being carefully studied, further decisions will be made following its consideration.
British citizens will be able to leave Russia through third countries "or on so-called outbound cargo-passenger flights," Interfax reported, citing a source at one of the airlines. It has not yet been finally decided.
The United States is watching a new strain of COVID-19 emerging in the UK, several US officials said on December 20, adding that it is unclear if the mutated variant made it to America. Writes about it Reuters.
“We don't know yet. We are studying this very closely, ”said Dr. Moncef Sloughi, head of the US vaccination program against COVID-19.
Sloughie, the Trump administration's chief scientific adviser at Warp Speed, said it was "very unlikely" that the mutation in the UK would be resistant to current vaccines. He said, "We cannot exclude her, but now she is not."
Other health officials from the outgoing Trump administration and the new Biden administration also said they are monitoring the situation. US President Donald Trump's chief surgeon, Jerome Adams, said that while virus mutations are not uncommon, any new strain of COVID-19 means Americans need to be more vigilant when washing their hands, wearing masks, maintaining distance, and avoiding crowds.
“Right now, we have no indication that this will harm our ability to continue vaccinating people or that it is more dangerous or deadly than the strains we know of,” Adams told CBS News.
Asked about the potential impact on US and UK travel, US Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Brett Giroar said: “I don't think there should be any cause for concern right now. We continue to watch. "
"We don't know which is more dangerous," added Jiroar, a member of the White House's task force on coronavirus. "Right now, it looks like the vaccine should work on everything we know."
Why is this new strain causing concern?
As explains Air force, a combination of three factors attracts special attention of scientists:
- It quickly displaces other strains of the same virus;
- The mutation occurs in parts of the virus that are of particular importance;
- Some of these mutations have already demonstrated in vitro the increased ability of the virus to enter cells.
All this together suggests that the virus can spread faster.
Nevertheless, there is no absolute certainty about this yet.
New strains can only become more prevalent because they are in the right place at the right time. For example, in London, where until recently there was a second level of restrictions. The introduction of the fourth and highest level of restrictions is due to the desire to reduce the spread of this new option.
“We need to carry out laboratory research. But will we wait weeks, if not months? Probably not, given the current circumstances, ”- explained to the BBC the logic of events, Professor Nick Lohman of the British Medical Association for the decoding of the genome of the new coronavirus (Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium).
How fast is it spreading?
This new strain was first identified in September. Already in November, approximately 25% of all infections in London were just this variant of the coronavirus. And by mid-December their number had increased to over 65%.
On the example of the results of tests made in the British laboratory Milton Keynes Lighthouse Laboratory, it is clear how this strain began to dominate laboratory analyzes.
Mathematicians are trying to calculate the behavior of other strains of coronavirus in order to understand how much more aggressive a new one might be. However, here it is necessary to take into account not only the behavior of the virus itself, but also how people will behave.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new strain could be 70% more infectious, which is why the reproductive index (which shows whether the number of infections is increasing or decreasing) could rise by 0,4.
This 70% was also reported on Friday by Dr. Eric Foltz from Imperial College London. During the talk, he said: "It is too early to draw conclusions ... but from what we already see, it is spreading very quickly, much faster, so it is important to keep watching it."
There is no definite number that accurately indicates how much more infectious this new strain is.
“The data that are available in the public domain is completely insufficient to make a clear and unconditional conclusion that the infectiousness of the virus has become higher,” says Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham.
How widely has it spread?
To date, it is believed that this strain either originated in a patient in the UK or was imported from another country where coronavirus mutations are not closely monitored.
This strain is now found throughout the United Kingdom with the exception of Northern Ireland, with concentrations in London and the counties in the south and east of England. In other areas, it seems, he did not take root very well.
Data from the Nextstrain international project, which monitors the genetic code of all viral samples from around the world, suggests that the new coronavirus strain, which appeared in Denmark and Australia, came from Britain.
The Netherlands has also documented several cases of this strain. A similar variant, originating in South Africa, has some of the characteristics of the new strain, but does not appear to be related to the British one.
Have such mutations happened before?
Yes. The coronavirus, first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is not the one that is now being found around the world.
The mutated D614G strain emerged in Europe in February, becoming dominant in all countries of the world.
Another, the A222V, has spread throughout Europe with holidaymakers in Spain this summer.
On the subject: White House security chief amputated part of leg due to COVID-19
What do we know about mutations in the British strain?
In the published initial transcript of the analysis of the new strain, there are potentially important changes in 17 characteristics. The changes concern the spike protein - a kind of key used by the virus to open the door to the cells.
One of the mutations, N501Y, is responsible for the most important part of this spine, known as the receptor binding domain (RBD). It is here that the thorn first comes into contact with the cell surface. Any changes that help the virus get in will likely give this strain an edge.
“By all accounts, this looks like an important adaptation,” notes Professor Lohman.
Another mutation (deletion H69 / V70) has been repeatedly recorded - in particular in infected minks on farms in Denmark - during which a tiny part of the thorn is destroyed.
Research conducted by Professor Ravi Gupta of the University of Cambridge shows that in laboratory conditions, this mutation doubles the infectivity of the coronavirus. In the course of the same experiments, scientists suggested that these mutations make it less effective to treat patients with blood transfusions from patients who have had covid.
“The cases keep growing and growing, and it worries the government, worries us, worries all scientists,” Professor Gupta told the BBC.
Where did the new strain come from?
This strain has undergone unexpectedly many mutations. The most likely explanation for this is that it originated in a patient with a weakened immune system who was unable to overcome this virus. Instead, this person's body has become a kind of favorable environment for the mutation of the coronavirus.
Has the covid become more deadly?
So far, there is no evidence that this could be the case. But the situation must be kept under control.
However, even the fact that the number of infected people is increasing can create problems in hospitals. If the new variant is easier to pass, more patients will need hospital treatment.
You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.
Will vaccines be effective against the new strain?
You can almost say yes. Anyway, for the near future.
All three of the world's leading vaccines trigger the body's immune response to the existing coronavirus spike protein. They tune the immune system to attack the various constituents of the virus, which means that even though part of the thorn has mutated, vaccines will still be effective.
“However, if we miss a few more mutations, then we have to worry,” says Professor Gupta.
“This virus has the potential to bypass the vaccine's protection. He has already taken a number of steps towards this, ”says the scientist.
This can happen if the virus mutates so much that the vaccine is ineffective, and the virus continues to infect people. And this is probably the most worrying about the new coronavirus and, in particular, the new strain showing that it can adapt to infect an increasing number of people.
“This virus is likely to be able to give rise to mutants that can resist the vaccine,” - with these words last Friday, concluded his presentation by Professor David Robertson of the University of Glasgow.
And then we find ourselves in the same situation as with the flu, when the vaccine needs to be regularly modified.
Fortunately, the coronavirus vaccines we've already received lend themselves easily to this.
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