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New COVID variant seen in England, increases transmission risk Roland00 Send a noteboard - 20/12/2020 07:07:22 PM

Of course there are new covid variants all the time for that is the nature of mutation. That said this variant seems to increase the transmission effectiveness and also may affect the effectiveness of the vaccines. Experts aka me still think the vaccines will still be effective but just less effective by an unknown amount if this new variant becomes more common in the UK but also the world.

Wall Street Journal

What We Know About the New Covid-19 Strain in England
Variant is believed to spread 70% faster than earlier versions of the virus

Scientists are hurrying to understand why a new strain of the coronavirus that emerged in England in September appears to be spreading far more rapidly than earlier variants.

The early conclusion, according to British scientists, is that the virus has mutated to change the so-called spike protein on the surface of the virus, increasing the protein’s ability to cling onto and enter human cells. These changes allow the mutation, known as N501Y, to spread 70% faster than earlier versions of the virus, early analysis suggests.

Neville Sanjana of the New York Genome Center says there is no evidence to suggest the variant has spread to the U.S.

Viruses mutate all the time and coronaviruses less so than some others, such as the ones that cause influenza. Sometimes these accidental changes alter the attributes of the virus and sometimes not.

Scientists have identified 23 genetic changes on the new variant, an unusually large number, some of which are associated with changes in the proteins the virus makes.

The spike protein is located on the top of the spikes depicted on graphic representations of the virus and give it the crown-like appearance from which the coronaviruses get their name. The spike protein contains amino acids that use an enzyme in the body, called furin, to dissolve cell coatings and allow the virus to enter.

Three main questions are now being investigated: Is the new variant more contagious, is it more likely to be fatal or cause serious illness, and is it more likely to defeat the body’s immune responses, including those encouraged by vaccines?

The provisional answers to those questions, as outlined by British scientific advisers on Saturday, are yes, no and no.

Patrick Vallance, the British government’s chief scientific adviser, said on Saturday that three types of study—of the virus’s genetic makeup, statistics and in the laboratory—have come together to show that this variant is significantly more prone to be transmitted among people than earlier strains.

He said the variant had first occurred in September either in London—where it was identified on Sept. 21—or in the nearby county of Kent, where it was found on Sept. 20. By mid-November, 28% of cases in London were attributable to the new variant. In the week starting Dec. 9, it was responsible for 62% of cases in the capital.

“It is becoming the dominant variant; it is beating all the others in terms of transmission,” he told a press conference on Saturday.

A preliminary description of the variant, published online by scientists associated with a British effort to track genetic variations of the virus, suggested the new strain may have developed in someone suffering from chronic infection, possibly because of a weakened immune system.

Mr. Vallance said the conclusions that the mutation was less dangerous and unlikely to compromise the effectiveness of vaccines were preliminary. He said there were theoretical reasons why the new variant might alter the immune response, though there was no evidence so far that was the case.

“The working assumption is that the vaccine response should be adequate for this virus, but we need to keep vigilant about this,” he said.

According to Dr. Sanjana of the New York Genome Center, “Single mutations will generally not alter vaccine performance.”

British officials said they had no evidence the mutation was present abroad, though scientists say a similar mutation has appeared independently in South Africa.

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2nd article

Countries Ban Travel From U.K. in Race to Block New Covid-19 Strain
Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands suspended travel as authorities assess impact of fast-spreading new virus variant

By Daniel Michaels
Updated Dec. 20, 2020 12:53 pm ET

BRUSSELS—Countries across Europe and beyond raced Sunday to stem a more-infectious strain of Covid-19 by banning travel from the U.K., following a British announcement Saturday that it is imposing fresh lockdowns.

Germany, Spain, Italy and Israel on Sunday were preparing to join the Netherlands and Belgium, which hours earlier had banned passenger air travel from the U.K., while other countries considered similar moves in an effort to prevent a worsening of the pandemic before Christmas.

The travel restrictions, following the identification of the new strain earlier this week, mark fresh setbacks in efforts to combat the deadly coronavirus despite the beginning of vaccinations over recent days. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said Sunday that a few cases of the new strain had also been reported in Denmark, the Netherlands and possibly in Belgium.

The Netherlands moved first, banning all passenger flights from the U.K. until Jan. 1. Belgium quickly followed, banning flights and rail arrivals of the Eurostar train line, beginning midnight Sunday, initially for 24 hours.

The German government later Sunday said it would restrict travel to and from the U.K. and South Africa, where the new strain has also been found. Berlin said it would coordinate specific regulations with other EU countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron convened a special council to address the situation and several other governments from Spain to Latvia said they were considering similar moves.

European Union officials were working to coordinate measures. The office of European Council President Charles Michel, who coordinates the EU’s 27 governments, convened Sunday a video call among EU and national officials, an EU official said. Germany, which holds the EU’s rotating six-month presidency, called an urgent meeting of governments for Monday morning to follow up on Sunday’s videoconference.

Outside the EU, Israel barred travelers from the U.K., Denmark and South Africa, and said it could add more countries to that list. Israelis may return from those countries but must quarantine in a hotel, the government said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a press conference Saturday that scientists believe the new variant could be as much as 70% more transmissible than more established strains. He said there is no evidence it is any more deadly or resistant to vaccines, despite its faster transmission from person to person.

In response to the discovery, Mr. Johnson imposed a fresh lockdown on London and nearby areas of southeastern and eastern England. The new measures include a ban on households mixing at Christmas.

The new strain of the virus accounted for 62% of the new cases identified in London in the week through Wednesday. The Dutch government said Sunday it had also discovered through examination of a Covid-19 case from early this month that the strain was present in the Netherlands.

“Following the latest reports from the U.K., this case is being investigated further,” a Dutch government statement said.

The U.K. reported its discovery of the new strain Monday and has already notified the World Health Organization.

Later in the afternoon, Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced he had signed an ordinance blocking all flights from the U.K. and banning anyone who had been in the U.K. in the previous 14 days from entering Italy.

Anyone who has already arrived in Italy from the U.K. will have to undergo a test, Mr. Speranza wrote on his Facebook page, without specifying how recently such arrivals must have occurred in order to trigger the requirement.

“The Covid variant, recently discovered in London, is worrying and will need to be investigated by our scientists. In the meantime we choose the path of maximum prudence,” Mr. Speranza wrote.

The top U.S. official overseeing coronavirus testing said he didn’t foresee a quick U.S. ban on United Kingdom travel.

“I really don’t believe we need to do that yet,” Adm. Brett Giroir said on ABC News’ “This Week.” Adm. Giroir said the new virus mutation was localized within the U.K., adding, “We have not seen a single (virus) mutation yet that would make it evade the vaccine.”

The U.S. State Department currently recommends travelers reconsider visiting the U.K., while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against going there.

The State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The U.K. reported 27,052 new daily infections Saturday, taking the total number of known cases in Britain to more than 2 million. There are currently almost 19,000 people in the hospital with Covid-19, and the country has reported more than 400 deaths a day on average during the past seven days.

The U.K. earlier this month became the first Western country to begin vaccinating people with a clinically approved vaccine. Mr. Johnson said 350,000 people had now received shots. That compared with more than 137,000 on Dec. 15.

EU officials expect this week to approve the same vaccine and begin administering it on Dec. 27.

Patrick Vallance, the British government’s chief scientific adviser, said Saturday that the new strain had already displaced earlier ones in parts of England. “This virus is taking off, it’s moving fast and it’s leading inevitably to a sharp increase in hospital admissions,” he said.

—Francis X. Rocca in Rome and William Boston in Berlin contributed to this article

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3rd article, which is more technical, from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, An agency of the European Union

Threat Assessment Brief: Rapid increase of a SARS-CoV-2 variant with multiple spike protein mutations observed in the United Kingdom
Risk assessment
20 Dec 2020

The aim of this Threat Assessment Brief is to summarise the findings, assess potential public health implications of this new variant, provide options for response and point out limitations, unknowns and needs for further studies and investigations.

Executive summary
Over the last few weeks, the United Kingdom (UK) has faced a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in South East England, leading to enhanced epidemiological and virological investigations. Analysis of viral genome sequence data identified a large proportion of cases belonged to a new single phylogenetic cluster. The new variant is defined by multiple spike protein mutations (deletion 69-70, deletion 144, N501Y, A57 , D614G, P681H, T716I, S982A, D1118H) present as well as mutations in other genomic regions. While it is known and expected that viruses constantly change through mutation leading to the emergence of new variants, preliminary analysis in the UK suggests that this variant is significantly more transmissible than previously circulating variants, with an estimated potential to increase the reproductive number (R) by 0.4 or greater with an estimated increased transmissibility of up to 70%. This new variant has emerged at a time of the year when there has traditionally been increased family and social mixing. There is no indication at this point of increased infection severity associated with the new variant. A few cases with the new variant have to date been reported by Denmark and the Netherlands and, according to media reports, in Belgium.

Given that there is currently a lack of evidence to indicate the extent to which the new virus variant is spread outside the UK, timely efforts to prevent and control its spread are needed, and include the following:

Public health authorities and laboratories are urged to analyse and sequence virus isolates in a timely manner to identify cases of the new variant. People with an epidemiological link to cases with the new variant or travel history to areas known to be affected should be identified immediately to test, isolate and follow up their contacts in order to stop the spread of the new variant.
If cases infected with this new SARS-CoV-2 variant or other new SARS-CoV-2 variants of potential concern are identified, countries should notify through the Early Warning and Response System of the European Union.
The importance of strict adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions according to national policies needs to be communicated to the public, and in particular guidance on the avoidance of non-essential travel and social activities should be stressed.
Laboratories should review the PCR performance and drop-out of the S-gene. PCR could be used as an indicator for cases with the new variant for further sequencing and investigation.
Suspected cases of COVID-19 reinfection should be followed up, closely accompanied by sequencing respective virus isolates from these cases. Similarly, cases with treatment failures using convalescent plasma or monoclonal antibodies should be further studied.
With the implementation of vaccination, close monitoring of COVID-19-vaccinated individuals needs to be ensured to identify possible vaccination failure and breakthrough infections. Virus isolates from these cases should be sequenced and characterised genetically and antigenically.


Just a reminder that 40 of the 50 United States have a R naught of 0.94 to 1.26 right about now. Increasing that by +.4 would be devastating! And the 10 states with a r naught of 0.74 to 0.93 are not doing that well one of the reasons the r naught went down is they were at the peak of their infections in places like North Dakota so just decreasing the r naught so 4 people infecting 3 people is not really an improvement when there hospitals were already full and they can't handle treating any more cases.

Be safe you Pussies For it is not just about you but also the people around you, even the people whose names you do not know yet you interact with during these cold and dark months of winter.

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New COVID variant seen in England, increases transmission risk - 20/12/2020 07:07:22 PM 89 Views
@ the Gov of New York *NM* - 03/01/2021 02:49:04 AM 5 Views

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