Saturday, December 19, 2020

"New SARS-CoV-2 Variant Spreading Rapidly in UK"

Early on in the Covid-19 pandemic (Feb. 29, 2020) we linked to an article that looked at possible futures if society were confronted by really bad diseases rather than one where we have the luxury of not vaccinating the elderly as a priority because those cohorts are too white*

"Social Responses to Epidemics Depicted by Cinema"

A great resource for portfolio risk managers.

As just one example, what is the trade if the world is confronted by a real-life version of  "Blindness (2008, Fernando Meirelles), which deals with a fictional disease that causes epidemic blindness, leading to collective hysteria?"
I mean beyond the simplistic "short Luxottica." Duh.

From Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, Volume 26, Number 2—February 2020:....MORE

And from The Scientist, what looks like an increase in the riskiness of Covid-19 (thankfully still not blinding people)

The significance of the variant remains unclear, but experts remain confident that it will not evade the protection offered by a COVID-19 vaccine.

As public health officials worldwide mount vaccination campaigns against COVID-19, a new SARS-CoV-2 variant has rapidly taken hold in the UK, leading scientists to investigate if it carries any implications for the transmissibility of the virus, severity of infection, and success of a vaccine, though experts say it is unlikely to hamper vaccination efforts. 

As of December 13, 1,108 COVID-19 cases with the new variant had been identified, predominantly in the south and east of England, says Public Health England in a statement on Monday (December 14). “High numbers of cases of the variant virus have been observed in some areas where there is also a high incidence of COVID-19,” the statement notes. “It is not yet known whether the variant is responsible for these increased numbers of cases.”

“We are still dealing with very thin evidence at the moment about this variant,” Sharon Peacock, the director of the UK COVID-19 Genomics Consortium (COG-UK), which randomly sequences positive COVID-19 samples around from the UK and discovered this variant, tells The Independent. 

The group first identified the new variant in late September and began following its spread, but what surprised some experts was its sudden prevalence.

“This lineage came up quite rapidly,” Nick Loman, a professor of microbial genomics at the University of Birmingham and a contributor to COG-UK, tells The Washington Post, noting that there were a “striking” number of mutations in the new variant, compared to the one or two he’s seen in other strains. Still, he notes that there is no proof yet that this variant is spreading faster or causing more severe illness.

Scientists detected 17 mutations in the variant, which scientists have named “VUI – 202012/01,” most in the segment of the virus’s genome that codes for the spike protein that surrounds the virus and allows it to bind to cellular receptors and infiltrate cells. 

Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust biomedical research foundation, released a statement on Monday, calling the development “potentially serious,” though he cautioned that the implications for transmission of the virus and the efficacy of vaccines were still unclear....


*"Harald Schmidt, an expert in ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said that it is reasonable to put essential workers ahead of older adults, given their risks, and that they are disproportionately minorities. “Older populations are whiter, ” Dr. Schmidt said. “Society is structured in a way that enables them to live longer. Instead of giving additional health benefits to those who already had more of them, we can start to level the playing field a bit.”

But to protect older people more at risk, he called on the C.D.C. committee to also integrate the agency’s own “social vulnerability index.”

NYT, Dec. 5, 2020

Absolutely vaccinate healthcare workers first. It's like the flight attendants say: "Put on your oxygen mask first cuz if you pass out you're no help for the kids" Gotta have those doctors and nurses healthy.

But if you are messing with vaccine queuing based on race as some sort of restorative justice you are straight-up, a racist.