New COVID-19 UK strain have led to travel bans over increased transmissibility. Experts try to understand the new COVID-19 variants. What does it mean for current vaccine?
The UN health agency chief said on Monday that scientists have been working to understand new COVID-19 variants. They have been reported in South Africa and the United Kingdom. According to news reports, more than 40 countries have now banned arrivals from the UK. Experts worry for the increased transmissible mutation of the new coronavirus. Also health officials stress that there is no evidence it is more deadly. Also that it would not respond in the same way to the vaccines cleared for emergency use.
“The bottom line is that we need to suppress transmission of all SARS-CoV-2 viruses as quickly as we can”, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a regular press briefing.
“The more we allow it to spread, the more opportunity it has to change”, he added.
New COVID-19 UK strain
The emergence of a new variant of coronavirus has sparked renewed interest in the part of the virus. On 14 December, British Health Secretary announced that the United Kingdom has identified a new variant of coronavirus. The new COVID-19 UK strain may be associated with the faster spread in the southwest of England. In addition to spreading faster, it may make people vulnerable to a second infection.
Will the vaccines work against the new COVID-19 UK strain?
Researchers are investigating the new COVID-19 UK strain. There is currently no evidence that this variant will render vaccines less effective. Experiments will follow in the labs.
WHO cautions against major alarm over mutated coronavirus
The World Health Organization cautioned against major alarm over a new, highly infectious variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in Britain, saying this was a normal part of a pandemic’s evolution.
“We have to find a balance. It’s very important to have transparency, it’s very important to tell the public the way it is, but it’s also important to get across that this is a normal part of virus evolution,” WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan told an online briefing.
“Being able to track a virus this closely, this carefully, this scientifically in real time is a real positive development for global public health, and the countries doing this type of surveillance should be commended.”
They said vaccines developed to combat COVID-19 should handle the new variants as well. Checks are underway to ensure this was the case.
The WHO said it expects to get more detail within days or weeks. WHO focus on the potential impact of the highly transmissible new coronavirus strain.
Low and lower middle income countries face pandemic
In early 2021, $4.6 billion in additional funding will be needed to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for at least 20 per cent of low and lower middle income countries, according to the WHO chief.
“This will ensure health workers and those at highest risk of severe disease are vaccinated, which is the fastest way to stabilize health systems and economies and stimulate a truly global recovery”, he said.
Charting new courses
As part of the hundred-hundred initiative – a major sprint by WHO, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank to support 100 countries in conducting rapid readiness assessments and develop country-specific plans within 100 days for vaccines and other COVID-19 tools. 89 countries have already completed assessments. Teams are working round the clock to ensure that governments and health systems are ready for the global vaccine rollout.
Pandemic has exploited the world’s vulnerabilities and inequalities. It has also shown that “in the face of an unprecedented crisis, we can come together in new ways to confront it”, said Tedros.
“Every crisis is an opportunity to question the way we do things, and to find new ways of doing them”, he upheld.
For 30 years, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has published an annual snapshot of global development. The 2020 Human Development Report takes an in-depth look at the COVID-19 pandemic and what it might mean for the future.
An unprecedented development crisis came with the coronavirus outbreak. At the regular WHO briefing, UNDP chief Achim Steiner told journalists that that it can be turned into a “gateway” for deploying social norms, incentives and nature-based solutions.
He flagged that the equitable distribution of COVID vaccinations requires governments to work together in unprecedented ways. He called it “the ultimate stress test for planetary health”. It will be delivering the “largest public health intervention of a lifetime and driving an inclusive and green recovery”.
Mr. Steiner doubled down on the belief that empowering people can bring about the action needed to live in balance with the planet in a fairer world.
He reiterated UNDP’s commitment to play its part, along with WHO, the UN family, and GAVI, the vaccine alliance, and others through the ACT Accelerator and the third Sustainable Development Goal’s (SDGs) Global Action Plan.