U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the new strain of the coronavirus is “out of control”

The Muslim Times has the latest and the best about vaccines

U.K.’s Hancock Says New Covid Mutation Is ‘Out of Control’

Source: Bloomberg

By Kitty Donaldson

  •  Hancock sees restrictions in place until vaccination rollout
  •  Johnson’s Tories urge parliamentary vote on new restrictions

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the new strain of the coronavirus is “out of control” and suggested parts of England will be stuck in the new, highest tier of restrictions until a vaccine is rolled out.

More than 16 million Britons are now required to stay at home after a lockdown came into force Sunday in London and southeast England and the government scrapped plans to relax rules on socializing at Christmas.

The measures to control the fast-spreading new variant of the virus forbid household mixing in those areas and restrict socializing to just Christmas Day across the rest of England. Residents across the country were told to keep to their local areas, and extra police were being deployed at rail stations to stop people traveling out of London.

“Cases have absolutely rocketed, so we’ve got a long way to go,” Hancock told Sky News. “I think it will be very difficult to keep it under control until the vaccine has rolled out.” People in the new Tier 4 areas “should behave as though they have it,” he said.

Hancock said that as of Saturday morning 350,000 people had been vaccinated, with the ambition to reach 500,000 by the end of the weekend.

Johnson had originally planned to ease pandemic rules for five days during the holiday, but made an abrupt change of tack after emergency talks on the virus mutation with officials.

Emerging scientific evidence suggests the new variant — which Hancock said has also appeared in Australia and continental Europe — can spread significantly more quickly than previous strains in circulation and is behind the surge in infections in recent days.

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Categories: Health, Vaccine

5 replies

  1. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel voted Sunday to put “frontline essential workers” and people 75 years of age and older next in line to be eligible to receive a vaccine against Covid-19.
    That so-called phase 1b group is estimated to include about 49 million people, or nearly 15% of Americans, according to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
    The committee’s recommendations if accepted by the CDC director will set federal guidance on how states should implement distribution of the scarce doses.


  2. Countries across Europe and beyond barred travelers from Britain on Sunday in an effort to keep out a highly infectious new strain of the coronavirus that is spreading rapidly in England.

    The British government said on Saturday the new strain appeared to be spreading 70% faster than earlier variants and is responsible for a surge in cases in London and its surrounding areas. Recorded cases across the U.K. in the week to Sunday rose 51% over the week before.

    The emergence of the variant presents a serious setback for suppressing the pandemic before new vaccines can be rolled out across the country, suggesting major restrictions will continue into the new year. There is no evidence yet that the new variant causes more serious infections or will neutralize the vaccines, British scientists say, but there are concerns it will make controlling the virus’s spread less manageable, even with a vaccine.


  3. Vaccines Don’t Mean We’ll See the Last of Covid, Experts Warn

    In record speed, vaccines are here, and more are on their way. Less than a year since the coronavirus began ravaging the world, the first shots are raising hopes for wiping the Covid-19 pandemic from the face of the earth.

    Today’s programs in the U.S. and the U.K. are precursors to immunization campaigns intended to reach the planet’s entire population — all 8 billion people in every corner of the globe.

    There is reason for optimism. Vaccines are the best, and perhaps only, way to eliminate infectious disease: Smallpox has been eradicated and polio is on the brink, with just two countries where transmission persists. But global vaccine campaigns take time — usually decades — suggesting that even with the latest technologies, money and might behind the unprecedented global drive to knock out Covid-19, the disease is unlikely to be eliminated any time soon.


  4. World Health Organization officials said the coronavirus is mutating “at a much slower rate” than seasonal influenza.
    Officials in the U.K. announced this weekend that a new mutation of the virus is allowing it to spread more easily.
    Seasonal influenza mutates so often that scientists have to regularly develop new vaccines to inoculate the population against the virus every year.

    World Health Organization officials said Monday that the coronavirus is mutating “at a much slower rate” than seasonal influenza, even as officials in the U.K. announced this weekend that a new mutation of the virus is allowing it to spread more easily.

    Seasonal influenza mutates so often that scientists have to regularly develop new vaccines to inoculate the population against the virus every year. U.K. officials have told the WHO that the Covid-19 vaccines appear to be just as effective against the new strain, but more research is needed. While all viruses naturally mutate, not every mutation makes a virus more contagious or more virulent.

    “SARS-CoV-2 is mutating at a much slower rate than influenza,” WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said at a press briefing. “And so far, even though we’ve seen a number of changes and a number of mutations, none has made a significant impact on either the susceptibility of the virus to any of the currently used therapeutics, drugs, or the vaccines under development, and one hopes that that will continue to be the case.”

    WHO officials reiterated that officials from the U.K. have said the new variant could be up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain of the virus. Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said it was unclear if the increase in spread in the U.K. is due to the mutation or human behavior.


  5. Will the vaccines work against the new variant?

    Almost certainly yes, or at least for now.

    All three leading vaccines develop an immune response against the existing spike, which is why the question comes up.

    Vaccines train the immune system to attack several different parts of the virus, so even though part of the spike has mutated, the vaccines should still work.

    “But if we let it add more mutations, then you start worrying,” said Prof Gupta.

    “This virus is potentially on a pathway for vaccine escape, it has taken the first couple of steps towards that.”

    Vaccine escape happens when the virus changes so it dodges the full effect of the vaccine and continues to infect people.

    This may be the most concerning element of what is happening with the virus.

    This variant is just the latest to show the virus is continuing to adapt as it infects more and more of us.


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