First reported in the UK, the new variant of COVID19 which is a mutated strain is reported to be over 70% more infectious. This new strain has been designated the call sign SARS-CoV-2 and is rapidly spreading across the globe.
There are speculation that this new variant of the COVID19 virus is causing the massive spike in cases we have been seeing across the United States.
Based on the latest analysis released by the CDC:
Multiple COVID-19 variants are circulating globally. In the United Kingdom (UK), a new variant has emerged with an unusually large number of mutations. This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. This variant was first detected in September 2020 and is now highly prevalent in London and southeast England. It has since been detected in numerous countries around the world, including the United States and Canada.
In South Africa, another variant has emerged independently of the variant detected in the UK. This variant, originally detected in early October, shares some mutations with the variant detected in the UK. There have been cases caused by this variant outside of South Africa. This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.
The spike in current cases are suspected to have been caused by the recent Christmas holiday where people suffering from “COVID fatigue” decided upon celebrating the event with their respective family.
Experts are predicting that New Year’s celebrations are going to overwhelm already stretched medical resources available in major cities across the US. California, one of the most populous state in the US, has already reported 0% ICU capacity is some areas. Medical professionals in some hospitals in California had to treat patients in Conference Rooms and Gifts Shops due to the surge in patients. Some hospitals in Southern California are so overwhelmed that they have to turn away ambulances seeking hospitals willing to accept their patients.
The current surge is not limited to the US, even Asian countries that have done well in the first wave of the COVID19 virus are reporting significant increase in the amount of patients suffering from the COVID19 virus. Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and India are all reporting a spike in the number of cases of COVID19 in their countries. European countries are also reporting similar staggering numbers as some countries in the EU are looking to force their countries into a second lockdown if the situation worsens.
Deaths are expected to increase not due to the virus itself but due to the lack of medical supplies and facilities available due to the surge in demand. Although various vaccines are being approved for public use, however, they have been slow to be administered. The most prominent vaccine, the mRNA vaccine, by Pfizer requires two doses to be administered one month apart, kept in freezing below 70 degree temperatures and only has a shelve life of two weeks. The logistics required to reach herd immunity where 80% of the population is vaccinated against the virus is severely hampered by both incompetence and funding limitations.
It will be an incredible feat to get a majority of any country’s population vaccinated by Spring of 2021 and it is expected that COVID will be a theme going into 2021 and throughout the year. Experts predict that we will only come out of COVID19 sometime in 2022.