Covid-19: what you need to know today
The number of countries that now have Covid-19 cases where the infection is caused by the new variant first detected in the UK in September has increased. In addition to the UK, and assuming the South African variant is completely different, the list now includes Japan, France, Spain, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Singapore, and Denmark. Once India adjusted its screening process for passengers arriving from the UK, it identified a slew of positive cases, one of which jumped onto a train after testing positive and was eventually detained in Rajamundhry, Andhra Pradesh, but the Genome sequencing of these cases was still ongoing as of Sunday as this article was written.
There is growing evidence that the new variant is more infectious than the older version of the Sars-CoV-2 virus. Last week, scientists, including some from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, published a study (under the auspices of the institute’s Center for Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases; the study has not yet been peer-reviewed) that showed that the new variant is available. 56% more infectious. But there is no evidence yet that it causes more serious Covid-19 cases or leads to more deaths.
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To repeat something I wrote last week, given that the majority of coronavirus disease cases in the UK are now being caused by the new variant, and given that there have been around 70 flights per week between India and the United Kingdom since May, they were temporary. It was stopped last week and will not resume before the end of the year; the variant is very likely already here.
This columnist learns that India may have made the mistake of going slow in sequencing viral genomes over the past four months, as most of the viral genomes sequenced in the country date back to the beginning of the pandemic. That will now change with India’s decision that at least 5% of all positive cases from all states and territories in the Union will undergo genome sequencing. And like the UK, India eventually formed a consortium of various laboratories and institutions from the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Center for Disease Control, called Insacog, and put it in charge of surveillance efforts. genomics of the country. A country with more than 10 million cases of the coronavirus disease should have sequenced more than the few thousand cases that India has, although, as Dispatch 232 noted on December 24, India is not the only laggard when it comes to. to this: the US with about 20 million cases is also one.
Now that India has addressed the issue of genome sequencing, it has yet to follow up; A previous ICMR guideline on weekly antibody tests in each of the more than 700 districts of India has been ignored; It should also pay attention to other issues related to the evolution of the pandemic in the country.
Chief among them is one on the unique trajectory of Covid-19 infections in India. To date, it is one of the only countries that has seen a significant number of cases, without witnessing a second wave of the pandemic. Interestingly, even the large gatherings in India in recent months have not turned into high-profile events like those seen in the United States and Europe. And October, November, and December have been the coldest in years, even decades, in northern and northwestern India (in the northern hemisphere, cases were expected to increase as winter came, and that’s what happened. in the US and Europe). Understanding why this has not happened in India is as important as celebrating the fact that it has not happened. And it may just provide some ideas on how to handle the pandemic in the coming months as India embarks on its vaccination campaign.
It has long been clear that more science, not less, is needed to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.