New COVID-19

New COVID-19 Strain not a Scare Factor for WHO

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World Health Organization said that the new coronavirus variant B117 found in Britain is not out of control. This new Covid-19 strain has a higher transmission rate but can be prevented via existing measures.

New Variant Aspects

WHO’s emergencies chief Michael Ryan said, “We have had a much higher (contamination rate) at different points in this pandemic and we’ve got it under control.” He added, “So this situation is not in that sense out of control. But it cannot be left to its own devices.” Experts claim the virus is 70 percent more transmissible.

Maria van Kerkhove, WHO epidemiologist, talked to CNN regarding the spread of infection on 21st December. The reproduction rate, or the rate of spread from the infected, has increased from 1.1 to 1.5 for the new strain.

Van Kerkhove informed that a new surveillance system to study the new variant has been set up by WHO. She snuffed out tension by adding, “So far we do not see any increase in disease severity or clinical picture. We are also looking at the body’s ability to develop antibodies. The studies are ongoing.”

Social distancing is of primary importance as elucidated by Van Kerkhove. “The interventions that work for preventing the spread of this variant also work for the viruses that are circulating around. So, this is physical distancing, making sure we avoid crowded spaces. We do things indoors as opposed to outdoors.”

High Hopes

However, UN official Van Kerkhove also claimed that the variant is unlikely to impact the COVID-19 vaccine or vaccination drive. The WHO stated on 22nd December that not enough evidence is at hand to determine whether the variant can reduce the vaccine efficacy.

Presently a number of drug companies are conducting tests on their vaccines. CNN reported that Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. are screening their COVID-19 vaccines’ strength against the new variant.

The German pharmaceutical company BioNTech SE is exploring all options to boost their vaccine production. CEO Ugur Sahin stated that the company is striving to rise higher than the promised 1.3 billion doses promised next year. He is also confident about the efficacy of BioNTech vaccine against the new variant.

Precautionary Measures

A Christmas lockdown has been imposed in London and Southern England. Boris Johnson publicly announced that British people are to stay indoors during Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Around 30 nations have sealed their borders against travel from Britain and South Africa.

WHO cautioned against unnecessary travel in light of the new threat. “Limiting travel to contain spread is prudent until we have better info. Supply chains for essential goods & essential travel should remain possible,” tweeted WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge. 

The European Commission stated that critical trade and passenger transport links to the UK must be open. However, unnecessary journeys should not be undertaken “until further notice”.




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