Nine cases of a new variant were detected in Denmark, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported this week.
According to current evidence by the UK’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG). In their December report it was stated that the rate of transmission of the variant was 71% (95% confidence interval 67% to 75%), higher than for other variants, and that it may also have a higher viral load.
While previous variants have emerged without clear evidence of having a selective advantage, the report noted, the “emergence and subsequent dominance” of this new variant in a period of relatively high prevalence indicated that it does have a “selective advantage over other variants.” The new variant was first detected in the UK in September but had since spread rapidly. Other countries are now reporting the new variant, including Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, France, Denmark and now Canada. It is suspected the surge in the virus in California might be due to the variant which means it will spread in the US. The good news is the vaccine (s) should remain effective driving the surges in the UK where it was first reported.
The variant, first identified in Britain and now accelerating around the world may be shifting the character of COVID-19 to make a difference of how the virus spreads and who is more susceptible to become infected. Another potential problem is the changing virus might make it more difficult to identify with the current test to spot. Several other variants have gained attention in South Africa and Nigeria.
PPE and the new variant (s)
Healthcare workers who would be most affected are understandably interested to find out if any additional personal protection equipment (PPE) will be needed. At this time there has been no mention of any difference with respect to effectiveness of personal protective equipment but this is something to be aware of and studied.
The new variant is forcing some countries to close their borders and tighten their travel restrictions even further and the closure of businesses to minimize the spread of the variant.