A recent surge in the number of coronavirus infections in the southern UK is thought to be related to a new Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus mutation that may make it significantly more transmittable.
In a press conference on Dec. 19, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that “we must—and will be—guided by the science.” He assured the public that, although restrictions on gatherings will cancel Christmas this year, it will help keep everyone safe so that they can hopefully enjoy Christmas together next year. He praised the advances in genome sequencing made by British scientists, saying that the “UK is better at obtaining information about new strains like this than any other country.”
Scientists first detected the new variant of the virus, which has multiple spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other genomic regions back in September. As of Dec. 13,, there have been 1,108 people in England, 20 in Wales, 9 in Denmark, 4 in Belgium, 1 in Netherlands and 1 in Australia who are identified as having contracted the new variant of the CCP virus. It was not unexpected that the virus mutated and even though it is more transmittable, it has not been found to cause higher acuity of symptoms or make it more deadly, nor is it expected to interfere with the vaccination process.
Johnson announced a list of regions due to raise from Tier 3 to Tier 4 moving restrictions, forcing many families to cancel their Christmas plans. Countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, and Austria have initiated travel bans on the UK as well.
According to MIT’s Technology Review report, “The virus would have to change substantially to ‘escape’ the current vaccine. Even if it does, vaccines can be adjusted to keep up with shape-shifting pathogens, as is the case with the annual flu shot.”
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The Technology Review also remarked about how the original findings of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, which Johnson was basing his action on, had an assessment that was “somewhat less alarmist than the prime minister’s version. They also go further to claim that “The situation could prove to be a false alarm. Sometimes virus variants appear to seem to spread more easily but in fact are being propelled by luck, like a superspreader event.”
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s Threat Assessment Brief states that “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%.”
According to the WHO, as of December 21, 2020, the global number of confirmed cases of the CCP virus is at 75,704,857, with 1,690,061 confirmed deaths. The CCP virus originated in Wuhan, central China, in late 2019. The CCP has been criticized by many countries for the lack of information they provided the rest of the world about the novel coronavirus. When doctor Li Wenliang tried to warn the public about the severity of the outbreak he was silenced and disciplined by the police, before contracting and succumbing to the CCP virus this January. Doctor Yan Limeng, a Chinese virologist who fled Hong Kong to the United States this spring, has claimed that the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.