Claim: UK Mutant Coronavirus Spreading More Easily, Displacing Other Strains

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The good news is the new mutant HS69/V70 Covid-19 strain does not appear to be more lethal, and the vaccine is expected to be effective against the new variant. But it does appear to be more easily passed on – the new virus is spreading despite UK efforts to impose a strict lockdown.

The new strain appears to be rapidly dominating other strains in the UK terms of prevalence.

The CDC is not currently recommending travel restrictions, though they recommend extreme caution when travelling to the UK. Fauci is advising everyone not to overreact.

The following is an interview with Matt Hancock, UK Health Secretary;

The following is a graph provided by Tony Cox, CEO, NIHR National Biosample Centre and the Milton Keynes “Lighthouse” Coronavirus Testing Mega-Lab, showing the new variant Covid-19 (orange) rapidly displacing other strains in terms of prevalence in the UK population.

The following has just been published on the British government health website.

COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2): information about the new virus variant

The new variant transmits more easily than the previous one but there is no evidence that it is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality.

Published 20 December 2020
From:Public Health England

Main points

Data from Whole Genome Sequencing, epidemiology and modelling suggest the new variant ‘VUI – 202012/01’ (the first Variant Under Investigation in December 2020) transmits more easily than other variants.

We currently have no evidence that the variant is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality – but we are continuing investigations to understand this better.

The way to control this virus is the same, whatever the variant. It will not spread if we avoid close contact with others. Wash your hands, wear a mask, keep your distance from others, and reduce your social contacts.

Is there any evidence that the variant is more serious?

We currently have no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or higher mortality – but we continue to study cases to understand this better. We know that mortality is a lagging indicator and we will need to continually monitor this over the coming weeks.

Why is this more transmissible?

We know that mutations in the spike protein, the part of the virus that makes it infectious, can change how the virus interacts with human cells. However, we do not yet know the mechanism for this increase in transmission.

The evidence shows that infection rates in geographical areas where this particular variant has been circulating have increased faster than expected, and the modelling evidence has demonstrated that this variant has a higher transmission rate than other variants in current circulation.

How long has this variant been in circulation?

All viruses mutate over time and new variants emerge regularly.

Backwards tracing using the genetic evidence suggests this variant emerged in September 2020 and then circulated at very low levels in the population until mid-November.

The increase in cases linked to the new variant first came to light in late November when PHE was investigating why infection rates in Kent were not falling despite national restrictions. We then discovered a cluster linked to this variant spreading rapidly into London and Essex.

Evidence of increased transmissibility was provided to NERVTAG and ministers on December 18.

Is this variant resistant to the Pfizer vaccine?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that the Pfizer vaccine would not protect people against the new variant.

Further laboratory work is currently being undertaken as a priority to understand this.

How widespread is the variant geographically?

144 Lower Tier Local Authorities have identified at least 1 case genomically, although the vast majority of cases identified are in London, the South East and the East of England.

Can tests detect this new variant?

Labs have been issued with guidance to adapt processes to ensure that PCR tests can detect this variant.

PCR tests can be adapted rapidly to respond to the new variant.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-sars-cov-2-information-about-the-new-virus-variant

So far there are no US plans to impose UK travel restrictions.

… In a Monday interview with CNN, Fauci, who also serves as a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said that the United States should “without a doubt keep an eye” on the new strain, but “we don’t want to overreact.” …

Read more: https://ift.tt/2KtxBUa

The new strain does not appear to be more lethal – so we are still only talking about a low mortality risk for most people.

But the ease with which the new strain can apparently be transmitted, and its apparent ability to defeat very strict UK lockdowns in my opinion makes harsh lockdowns much more difficult to justify.

The new strain may significantly increase the risk of exposure for the elderly and infirm, and therefore would appear to increase the urgency of rolling out vaccines to vulnerable people.

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December 22, 2020 at 04:32AM

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