On January 4, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered another grim coronavirus-related speech to the nation: A variant of COVID-19 first identified in Kent, England, was believed to be between 50% and 70%. more contagious. In just over a week, the number of hospital admissions increased by almost a third. The number of deaths had increased by 20%. Johnson ordered the country’s third full national shutdown since the start of the pandemic.
That means, Johnson said, seriously, the government is telling him once again to stay home. He can only leave home for limited reasons allowed by law, such as buying essential items, working when he cannot work from home, exercising, seeking medical attention such as a COVID test, or escaping domestic violence.
On Monday, amid a dramatic drop in coronavirus infections, the UK leader will reveal his plan to end one of the world’s toughest COVID-19 lockdowns. Only Cuba has stricter restrictions, according to an index of government measures compiled by Our World in Data, a research unit affiliated with the University of Oxford.
The COVID-19 Government Strictness Index looks at nine different national coronavirus response indicators, including school and workplace closures, travel bans, and restrictions on public and family gatherings. Thomas Hale, one of the researchers behind the index, said that it hides some local and regional variations, particularly in places like the US, where city, state and federal authorities depend on a mosaic of coronavirus measures, but generally it is still educational.
Out of a possible score of 100, Britain reached 86.11 on the index on February 18.
The figure for the US was 68.06.
In Cuba, where even road access to the capital of the Caribbean country, Havana, is limited, the number is 90.74.
U.S. public health officials will be watching what Johnson says, especially since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that by the end of next month, B.1.1.7 will be the variant of COVID- 19 more transmissible than originally identified. in Britain in September, it is likely to be the dominant driving force within US borders.
The United States has seen peaks and valleys in COVID-19 cases since the first infections were reported in North America in January 2020, but there are concerns that variation B.1.1.7 is one of several variants of COVID -19 that could help lead to what’s called a fourth wave of coronavirus infections in the US.
Bedford an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said in a Twitter thread Thursday that a steady decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. will push levels to where they were at late October, could be threatened by the rapid attack. -off of B.1.1.7 he said there are indications that variant B.1.1.7 may reach the 50% frequency in the United States by the end of March.
However, Bedford noted that it was unclear whether B.1.1.7 would benefit from further improvements in seasonality and immunity, which means, among other things, warmer temperatures and increased vaccination coverage in the US. I’m not sure how much to expect from a B.1.1.7 spring wave at this point, he said.
In the US, according to CDC data, 1,523 cases of B.1.1.7 were reported on February 18 in 42 states. To put that in perspective, although new coronavirus infections in the US have generally declined for about a month, the daily number of new cases for February still averages around 95,000, according to an analysis of USA TODAY data from Johns Hopkins University. In February, the number of coronavirus deaths in the US averaged about 2,520 per day.
In Britain, the number of new daily coronavirus cases has been around 12,000 last week. Researchers at University of College London applying mathematics to health care problem, said variant B.1.1.7 now accounts for about 90% of new cases in Britain.
New variants have also emerged from California, Brazil and South Africa. The researchers say that the United States almost certainly underestimates the cases of variant B.1.1.7. cases has more than quadrupled since January 27.
It spreads so easily, like a forest fire. It really took us by surprise, Carl Waldmann, director of an intensive care unit at a hospital in Reading, southeastern England, told German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
When the most contagious variant swept across Britain in January, the government warned that hospitals were on the brink of saturation. There was a steady stream of pleading testimonials from doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals documenting the impact of B.1.1.7 for the public to diligently adhere to the Johnson shutdown.
It’s cruel and we’re sinking, said Sarah Addis, an emergency room doctor at a hospital in York, northern England, on Jan. 8. We are simply flooded. And we’re starting to see younger and sicker COVID patients, she said.
On January 20, around 1,820 people died in Britain from the coronavirus, the highest deaths in a single day since the pandemic began, and nearly double the peak of a previous infections in April, according to Public Health England.
Amid the rising death toll, British hospitals canceled all elective surgeries. Appointments for cancer diagnosis were suspended. A large part of the health personnel was transferred to intensive care units for coronavirus, although they did not have specialized training. Ambulances full of coronavirus patients lined up in front of hospitals waiting for beds.
Johnson is expected to announce a gradual return for some schools beginning March 8. It’s unclear if other rules around meetings, nonessential retail and hospitality will be relaxed. Recently, he focused on international travel and added mandatory hotel quarantine for travelers arriving from certain countries with a negative COVID-19 test.
With the exception of Israel, Britain has delivered more vaccines per 100 people than any other advanced economy, according to Our World in Data. However, there is little additional data to show how well the vaccine affects new British infections.
He also expressed concern about how the United States would treat variant B.1.1.7 if it took hold, as expected, by the spring, when the variant dominant.
American coronavirus waves are based on slower-moving variants, Clarke said.
If one that moves faster like B.1.1.7 starts to take off, he will have a problem if he is not willing to do a strict and wide-ranging national blockade, Clarke added, noting that it was his. perception that the United States does not seem to want to do this.
Just to name a few examples: Unlike Britain, not all US states have restrictions on leisure travel, many states offer waivers of broader rules that allow restaurants to stay open, and many have opposed Calls for entertainment venues, gyms and personal care businesses like hair salons and tattoo parlors. It is largely up to local officials to decide whether and how to enforce most of the US coronavirus restrictions.
Other countries in Europe that have not recently applied blockades as severely as Great Britain are struggling to contain the increase in cases of variant B.1.1.7.
If you want to get B.1.1.7 under control, the locks have to be much more difficult, said Kit Yates, professor of mathematical biology at the University of Bath, England.
Yates said he believes that when schools in Britain reopen the coronavirus, cases are likely to increase again, despite new evidence that the transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant may not be as high as previously thought. initially. In fact, he said, it could be closer to 30% to 40% more contagious than the most common variants in the US.
Pagel, a researcher at University College London, said Britain’s latest lockdown has reduced the number of new coronavirus cases by about 60%. That’s the good news, he said. The bad news is that we cannot control this with half measures, She said that.
Pagel cautioned, however, that if the variant first discovered in Britain is allowed to circulate too freely in the US, there is a risk that this could lead to a modest variance that is smart enough to support current vaccines. .
He added that with the old variant, he can remove the cases pretty quickly so that everything appears to be fine even if the new variant is extended.
In fact, there are two epidemics down the hall, one getting smaller and smaller and the other growing, he said. That is exactly what happened in the UK and it seems likely in the US.