Coronavirus: Cases of new mutant strain skyrockets – how is it more contagious?
Matt Hancock says there could be annual coronavirus vaccine
A record-breaking one in 15 people are infected in three boroughs on the outskirts of London: Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, and Thurrock – putting huge pressures on the already strained NHS. How is this mutant virus more contagious?
The government’s latest figures show that there are 1,708 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Barking and Dagenham.
Nearby Redbridge has an infection rate of 1,571 cases per 100,000 people.
And not too far off, Thurrock has 1,566 positive Covid cases per 100,000 people.
Data from the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) infection survey revealed one in 15 people in the Redbridge borough have had Covid in the past week.
These three Covid hotspots are surrounded by several neighbourhoods that are also among the top 10 most infected boroughs. These include:
- Epping Forest
As of Sunday, January 10, the 10 worst hit areas in England for Covid cases are as follows:
- Barking and Dagenham: 1,708.3
- Redbridge: 1,571
- Thurrock: 1,566.5
- Harlow: 1,524.1
- Epping Forest: 1,519.5
- Broxbourne: 1,499.8
- Newham: 1,491.8
- Castle Point: 1,449.5
- Rushmoor: 1,433.4
- Havering: 1,416.7
Barking MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, warned PM Boris Johnson that the “demand for oxygen is running at 100 per cent or more of the supply available” at Queen’s Hospital in Romford, east London.
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Why is the mutant B117 coronavirus strain more contagious?
Researchers at Imperial College London noted the B117 strain has around 17 mutations in its genome.
In particular, the spike protein found on B117 has mutated, enabling the virus to have a “transmission advantage”.
The spike protein attaches to human cells that it then infects, which is now more easily achieved by the B117 variant.
Current estimates from Imperial suggest B117 might be “50 percent” more contagious than other coronavirus mutations.
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Although the new variant isn’t more deadly to those who are infected, it does bring about concerning issues.
For instance, as more people are infected, inevitably a higher number of vulnerable people will be impacted by this new variant.
This in turn creates more pressure on the NHS, who simply do not have the capacity to deal with a skyrocketing surge in severe Covid cases.
Without the help of a national lockdown, coronavirus cases would be even greater than they are now.
Thankfully, the roll-out of coronavirus vaccinations are underway, helping to protect the most vulnerable in society.
As far as we know, the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines will still work against B117.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced every adult will be offered the coronavirus vaccine by autumn.
Strict law enforcements are also backed by Hancock in policing lockdown rules.
In England’s national lockdown people are instructed to “stay at home” except for special considerations.
This means people are only allowed to leave home for basic necessities, going to work (if you can’t work from home) and exercising.
Exercise is to be limited to once a day, confined to your local area, and only with your household, support bubble to one other person.
It’s also permissible to leave your home to seek medical assistance, or to attend education or childcare facilities for those eligible.
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