On December 19, British Prime Minister Borris Johnson implemented new restrictions on London and much of the southern UK. This is because a variant of the novel coronavirus has been surging parts of the UK and rapidly infecting thousands daily.
So what do we know about it? To start, all viruses mutate constantly and so this variant is not a big surprise.
According to the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, over 4,000 mutations of COVID have emerged. Out of which, only a handful are considered significant. One of the reasons this new variant is significant is because it is about 70% more transmissible than the original. A few weeks ago, it was only 10 - 15% but last week, it was 60%. However, it is too soon to tell if it is deadlier.
Scientists are mostly concerned with the changes in the variant’s spike protein - that is a part of the virus that interacts with the body’s ACE-2 (a receptor). The spike protein allows it to interact with parts such as the lungs, throat and nasal cavity.
Mutations in the spike protein may enhance the variant’s strength, giving it a growth advantage. The vaccinations given up till now have multiple functions, of which one is to create antibodies against the spike protein. But the mutations in the virus may hinder the vaccine’s ability to do so.
Many nations have taken action to stop spread to other nations by banning flights from the UK, including Canada. Over the past week, multiple flights have arrived from Britain to cities in Canada. 10 to Toronto and 4 in Montreal. Of these flights, some continued to cities such as Edmonton and Calgary. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Transport Minister have announced that they are halting all flights from Britain for the time being until further notice. This will be in place for 72 hours while officials assess the situation and take necessary actions.
Until now, one would question everything and be alarmed as they should. However, it is also important to consider the other factors that could prevent one from being infected. With schools being closed, there is a possibility they will remain closed throughout January and with flight bans, there is limited opportunities for the variant to surge throughout Canada. Leaders are tightening restrictions and monitoring closely to protect their people. In connection, vaccinations are occurring and until there is sufficient coverage, restrictions won’t be lightened.
Thus, it is important to respect social distancing guidelines, limit travel, get used to conferencing platforms and be creative to ease boredom. If one protects themself, they protect a countless number of other lives.
- https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2020/12/20/a-new-coronavirus-variant-may-derail-pandemic-control-efforts (picture)
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.