U.S. Air Force 1st Lieutenant Alison Black, a registered nurse, cares for Covid-19 patients in a makeshift intensive care unit (intensive care unit) at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on January 21, 2021 in Torrance, California
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The variant, found in the UK and known as B.1.1.7., Has an unusually large number of mutations and is associated with more efficient and faster transmission.
There is no evidence that the mutant strain is associated with more severe disease outcomes. However, because it is more transmissible, additional people are likely to become infected and this can lead to more serious cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Scientists first discovered this mutation in September. Since then, the option of concern has been detected in at least 44 countries, including the United States, which has reported its presence in 12 countries.
Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the model trajectory of the US option “shows rapid growth in early 2021, becoming the predominant option in March.”
The forecast comes as Britain struggles to control the impact of its exponential growth.
What is the situation in the UK?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced measures to blockade England on January 5, instructing people to “stay home” as most schools, bars and restaurants were ordered to close. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have introduced similar measures.
The restrictions, which are expected to remain in England until at least mid-February, were introduced to try to reduce tensions in the country’s already stressed hospitals amid rising admissions in Kovid.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson spoke during a media briefing on the coronavirus (COVID-19) on Downing Street on January 15, 2021 in London, England.
Dominic Lipinski Getty Images
Government figures released on Thursday said the UK had registered 37,892 new infections with 1,290 deaths. A day earlier, the United Kingdom recorded a record record for Covid mortality for all time, when data show that an additional 1,820 people died within 28 days after a positive Covid test.
Dr Deepti Gourdasani, a clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, emphasized that the UK’s response made it clear that unless aggressive measures were taken immediately, “the option would spread rapidly geographically and increase the frequency of places where there are established in the community. “
Gurdasani cites findings from a carefully monitored study conducted by researchers at Imperial College London, which showed “no evidence of a drop” in Covid’s percentage between January 6 and January 15, although England concluded, “suggesting that even with limitations, it is difficult to contain this effectively due to higher transferability. “
Researchers in the study, published on Thursday, warned that health services in the UK would remain under “extreme pressure” and the cumulative number of deaths would increase rapidly unless the spread of the virus in the community was significantly reduced.
“All this means that the restriction window is very short. Given the lower active surveillance in the United States, the option may have been more widespread than expected, and the restriction policy should reflect this,” Gurdasani said.
“This means strict efforts to limit not only where the option has been identified, but in all regions where it could spread. And active monitoring with contact tracking to identify all possible cases, while maintaining strict limitations on transmission chain interruptions. “
Patients arrive by ambulance at the Royal Hospital in London on January 5, 2021 in London, England. The British Prime Minister addressed national television on Monday night, announcing that Britain would enter its third blockade of the covid-19 pandemic. This week, the UK registered more than 50,000 new confirmed Covid cases for the seventh consecutive day.
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To date, the UK has registered the fifth largest number of confirmed Covid infections and related deaths in the world.
What measures should be considered in the United States?
On his second day in office, President Joe Biden announced far-reaching measures to combat the virus, including the creation of a Covid testing board to stimulate testing, address supply shortages and target funds to affected minority communities.
Biden said the executive orders show that: “Help is on the way.” He also warned that it would take months “to reverse this”.
“The key to all of this is to reduce interpersonal interactions, and the strategy should be broadly the same as it was before, worked elsewhere, and then some,” said Simon Clark, an associate professor of cell microbiology at the University of Reading. .
Nurse Dawn Duran administered a dose of Jeremy Koran’s Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Pasadena, California, USA, on January 12, 2021.
Mario Anzuoni Reuters
Clark said the United States would have to consider, for example, reducing the number of people shopping or leisure, and it might be necessary to close bars or limit their opening hours, given that studies show that the risk from transmission is higher indoors.
“None of these things we do to protect ourselves eliminate the risk, and none of them make us proof of Covid – all it does is reduce your chances of getting infected,” Clark said.
“The virus has just repulsed this with this evolutionary step, and it will now be even harder to achieve the same level of protection.”
Release vaccines “as soon as possible”
“Everyone wants to believe that vaccines are the solution and will make a huge difference, but that’s not the whole solution,” said Keith Yates, a senior professor of mathematical biology at the University of Bath and author of The Math of Life and Death. “
Yates said the new US administration should do everything possible to release Covid vaccines “as soon as possible” to ease the pressure on health facilities, but insisted that this should be part of a multilateral approach.
Some other measures the United States should consider, Yates said, include encouraging people to work from home where possible, maintaining physical distance, improving ventilation in school, forcing children to wear masks, and providing financial support. for self-isolating and using effective test and follow-up protocols.
“These are boring, horrible, non-pharmaceutical measures that no one wants, but the alternative is too scary to think about.”