By Marsha Mullings, MPH
19.1 million cases, 333,140 deaths
1.27 million cases,
61,459 total hospitalizations, 21,212 deaths
131,440 cases, 7,343 total hospitalizations,
New variant of coronavirus spreading across the globe
A new variant of the coronavirus has been identified in the United Kingdom. This variant has resulted from mutations of the original coronavirus and scientists have so far identified 23 mutations in the genome of this variant. The concern regarding this new variant of coronavirus is the ease of transmission – it is reported to be 70% more easily spread than the original coronavirus. Scientists are watching and intensively studying the patterns of this variant. The following is what is known so far.
This new variant is more contagious. Scientists in the UK have suggested that this new variant of coronavirus is more contagious – it is more easily spread than the original coronavirus. It is spreading rapidly in the south of England (particularly London) and has already been identified in France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, and The Netherlands. It has also been identified in Japan, Nigeria, South Africa, Australia, and Canada.
No evidence of more severe disease. There is no evidence that this new variant causes more severe disease once a person has been infected with it. As we study the patterns and effects of this variant, we will learn more about its potential to cause severe disease.
New coronavirus variant may already be in the US. No cases have been reported in the United States, but it is believed that the new coronavirus variant may already be here, given the extent of transatlantic travel between the UK and the United States.
The effectiveness of the current vaccines will not be affected. Scientists believe that the current vaccines will be able to mount an immune response against this new variant of coronavirus. The vaccines are already being administered in the UK and US so scientists will be studying the results of vaccine campaigns to determine if efficacy rates are affected by a possible new coronavirus variant.
Scientists are on high alert regarding this mutated coronavirus. Its rapid spread across the globe will increase disease burdens for all affected countries. Disease control mitigation and vigilance are key. Social distancing, wearing a mask when out in public, good hand hygiene, and above all, avoiding crowded indoor locations are critical.
For more information on coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention, visit www.FloridaHealth.org; coronavirus.jhu.edu; cdc.gov