It’s been about five weeks since the UK’s Minister of Health announced a new strain of coronavirus.
Since then, the UK’s COVID-19 variant has spread to at least 45 countries and prompted new lockdowns and restrictions across Australia.
Like the nationwide lockdown in March last year, this is designed to provide breathing room for authorities trying to contain the spread.
This is the extent to which the variants have spread, and how the Australian authorities are dealing with the problem.
Where has the British coronavirus variant spread so far?
So far, 45 countries have detected a British variant of the coronavirus, according to cov-lineages.org, which, among other things, tracks the global spread of the new COVID-19 strain.
Thirteen countries have recorded community transmission of the COVID-19 variant, according to the study can be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the previous strain.
Cases have been recorded in European countries including Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal and the Netherlands.
Outside Europe, local transmissions have been recorded in the United States, Canada, Israel and in the Philippines.
The first case detected in the United States occurred on December 29, in a man with no travel history.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, there are 63 recorded cases nationwide.
The states with the most variance cases include California with 33 recorded cases, Florida with 22 cases, and Colorado, where the strain was first detected, has three recorded cases.
These are not the total variant cases circulating in the US, only those found in the analysis of positive samples. It happened as the US recently hit a record 300,000 new COVID-19 cases recorded in a day.
‘We have to assume that this strain will become the dominant strain’
Increased transmission of this new strain is thought to increase the number of cases in the UK.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “This tension is likely to occur [the] the more dominant viral strain globally “.
NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian said the same thing, although he didn’t think the strain should be considered a “British strain”.
“We have to assume that this strain will become the dominant strain and it is important to continue to reassess our arrangement, remain vigilant and for the near future keep our masks in that indoor setting,” he said.
“I also want to emphasize that we should not link this variant with one country because the so-called British strain now exists in 30 countries.”
Is tighter locking the new normal now that new strains are spreading?
We don’t know yet. However, among other restrictions, Greater Brisbane is under lockdown because, for the first time, someone has been in the Australian community unknowingly ill from the tension.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she was not surprised the British strain was the first to break out of a Queensland hotel quarantine.
“We have to remember, this is a very contagious virus, even before the new variant, and this variant is 70 percent more contagious,” said Dr Young.
“So, I’m not too surprised that our first breach was due to this virus. Other states have had several situations where the virus escapes their quarantine hotels, and in most cases they haven’t been able to.
find out how it happened. “
Ms Berejiklian suggested the spread of the variant had led to a reassessment of how the virus was managed.
“It is important to continue to reassess our arrangements, remain vigilant and, for the near future, keep our masks on in that indoor setting. [in NSW],” she says.
“Anything we can do to reduce that risk is very important, especially now that we understand what this strain is doing, and all the experts are suggesting in time that this mutated strain will become the dominant strain.”
He said, like the national lockdown in March, such actions reduction in international passenger arrivals will give the authorities time to manage the new strain.
“[It] gives us more time to study what viruses do, what new variations do viruses do, and that’s important, “he said.
He said he would like to see more Australians flying back home, but the COVID-19 variant is worrying.
“I think that’s always been our aspiration, but we can’t pretend about how serious the current mutation of the virus is … health experts say it’s up to 50 to 70 percent more transmissible than other strains, and if that’s the case, we do. have to consider what we do in the future. “
How does this affect vaccine launches?
Scientists predict the virus is mutating because the coronavirus, like all viruses, continues to evolve.
And that has been factored into in vaccine development. New research shows Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could protect against British and South African variants.
This study is preliminary and does not look at the other two main vaccines used in Western countries so far – Moderna and AstraZeneca.
But Frederic Bushman, of the University of Pennsylvania, who tracks how the virus mutates said: “There’s no reason to think a vaccine won’t work well on this strain.”
Professor Bushman, who was not involved in the Pfizer study, warned that the study only tested one vaccine against one mutation.
The Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines are undergoing similar testing, and he expects similar findings.
This study marks the beginning of ongoing monitoring to ensure that all vaccines launched around the world continue to work.
What about the South African strain?
The South African breed has spread to at least 13 countries, including Zambia and Botswana, according to cov-lineages.org, and both African countries have recorded community transmission.
Past first recorded in Australia on 22 December. Japan, China and European countries including France, Austria and Norway have noted the tensions.
ABC / Cable