COVID-19 Coronavirus current events

Mendel

Senior Member.
Article:
WASHINGTON — Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump.

That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world. Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the president the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic.

The study, to be released Thursday, is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media. [..]

The study identified 11 topics of misinformation, including various conspiracy theories, like one that emerged in January suggesting the pandemic was manufactured by Democrats to coincide with Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, and another that purported to trace the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, to people who ate bat soup.

But by far the most prevalent topic of misinformation topic was “miracle cures,” including Mr. Trump’s promotion of anti-malarial drugs and disinfectants as potential treatments for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That accounted for more misinformation than the other 10 topics combined, the researchers reported.

[..]

The study found that conspiracy theories, when lumped together, accounted for 46 percent of the misinformation mentions. Among those theories was one that emerged in early April suggesting that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a respected voice on the pandemic, was exaggerating deaths or was a beneficiary of pharmaceutical company efforts to find treatments and vaccines. To look for such stories, they examined social media hashtags, including #FireFauci and #FauciFraud.

(Emphasis mine.)
 

DavidB66

Active Member
Among the many puzzles presented by the international statistics for Covid-19 is the large difference in death rates between The Netherlands and Belgium, neighbouring countries which seem to have much in common. The Worldometers table currently shows a death rate per million population of 375 in The Netherlands, but 864 (second highest in the world, after Peru, and ignoring little San Marino) in Belgium.
Part of the explanation may be that the Dutch figure is a serious underestimate. According to a Reuters report, based on a study by the Dutch Statistics office, the true figure of deaths among people who had tested positive for Coronavirus, or where Covid-19 was listed as 'the most probable cause of death', would be over 10,000 rather than some 6,400 as officially reported. The Reuters report is here:
https://in.reuters.com/article/us-h...in-first-wave-statistics-agency-idUSKBN26M4ZR
In some other countries, such as the UK, it is known that overall death rates during the earlier peak of the epidemic were higher than the rates attributed to Covid-19, but the Dutch report seems to go further than this, implying that a lot of deaths specifically identified as Covid-19 related are not so far included in the official death figures. In some other countries (the UK and France, I think) this was initially also the case, as deaths outside hospital were not included, but the figures were later revised to include them.
I don't know what effect this would have on the overall figures. Simply adjusting by a factor of 10/6.4 would bring the Dutch death rate per million up to 586, but this is probably too crude. It is still a lot lower than the Belgian figure, but there may be other factors to explain this.
In passing, I note that another puzzle is the very high death rates in many South American countries. There are now six of them with rates over 600. I have not seen much discussion of this. It would be easy to say, 'well, they are poor countries', but so are those in Africa, and death rates there seem much lower.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Among the many puzzles presented by the international statistics for Covid-19 is the large difference in death rates between The Netherlands and Belgium, neighbouring countries which seem to have much in common.
Belgium is half francophone and close to French regions that have been hit hard. If you look at the current ECDC map at https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/cases-2019-ncov-eueea , you can see that the Netherlands are also hardest hit in those areas that are closer to Belgium. The same page shows that 14-day case rates and death rates are comparable right now.
w38_39_COVID_subnational_Last_2week.png
The biggest risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmissions is geographical proximity to other infected areas -- Germany had its worst infections in the South, closest to Italy. Many EU institutions being based in Belgium may be another part of the puzzle.

My impression is that government and population response is a big factor in what happens with respect to Covid-19. I am not in a position to say how much Belgium had in common with similar countries, both in terms of Covid-19 response and public health system capabilities; but they've been the outlier in Europe, not the Netherlands, going back to April and May.
 

Oystein

Senior Member
The difference between Belgium's death count and her neighbors is this:

Belgium counts as "Covid-19" related deaths all deaths from respiratory illnesses that come with typical Covid-19 systems, even if the patient has not been tested and thus was not an official "case". The Netherlands and most other countries only count as Covid-19 those where the virus has been positively identified via test (generally PCR).
Belgium thus may have somewhat OVERcounted Covid-19 deaths, while the Netherlands and others would tend to UNDERcount them.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
The difference between Belgium's death count and her neighbors is this:

Belgium counts as "Covid-19" related deaths all deaths from respiratory illnesses that come with typical Covid-19 systems, even if the patient has not been tested and thus was not an official "case". The Netherlands and most other countries only count as Covid-19 those where the virus has been positively identified via test (generally PCR).
Belgium thus may have somewhat OVERcounted Covid-19 deaths, while the Netherlands and others would tend to UNDERcount them.
Do you have numbers? I don't think you can overcount Covid deaths by much, you wouldn't count the "atypical" deaths (cardiac, liver etc.) as Covid without a pisitive virus test, and the pneumonia cases have the very typical lung scans. And I think most countries actually do accept these kinds of diagnoses now.

And Belgium doesn't just have a relatively high number of deaths, they also had a relatively high number of cases.

France was undercounting cases, and they're a neighbor of Belgium, so differences in bookkeeping do matter, but Belgium is still on the high end of the scale.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
There's a strong resurgence of the epidemic in Europe now that the weather has become colder.
Article:
Distribution of laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the EU/EEA and the UK, as of 17 October
novel-coronavirus-cases-EU-UK-2020-10-17.png
14-day COVID-19 case notification rate per 100 000, weeks 40-41
w40_41_COVID_subnational_Last_2week.png


In most countries, the situation is reminiscent of March/April, which is a bad thing going into the cold season.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
now that the weather has become colder.
is it that much colder? a serious question as i dont know europe weather. or their "opening" levels. (schools, businesses etc) and i'm curious.

i'm near NY. our numbers are going up again too but our weather isn't that much colder (mid 60s to 70s.. which they do say is the viruses favorite temperature). Restaurants were recently open to 75% -Oct 8th- but bars/clubs still closed. Casinos are open at 25% (which seems to be the hot spot section of our state right now, but that might just be a coincidence. they opened at 25% june 1st )

Schools did open (colleges seem a pretty big problem here). People are tired of isolating and all the constant safety measures. we had Labor Day early September. We only generally know where and who the outbreaks are affecting, unfortunately specifics are hard to find.

I am curious about weather because most of our summer was heat wave territory, so people were still inside in the air conditioning. although not in restaurants at all, school was closed, most businesses still in curb side pick up status.

Not that it matters, we cant shut down the economy forever. But here unfortunately the turn of weather coincides with businesses and schools opening. so it's hard to tell the main driver of increases.
 

derwoodii

Senior Member.
some joy down under in Victoria Melbourne the case numbers have dropped to level wherin Gov has relaxed some lock down rules. We can now travel 25 clicks go golfing swimming surfing fishing tennis kids returning back to school and service business opening up etc still need to wear approved mask and keep low group number but its looking better each day,,



https://www.theage.com.au/national/...ubble-meets-your-buddy-s-20201019-p566ie.html

One of the big changes announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday was the expansion of the five-kilometre limit on travel for Melburnians to 25 kilometres.

No limit on time outdoors and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people from two households were also among the new, less restrictive lockdown rules.

as apposed to many other country's right now as this meme attempt to illustrate.




thumbnail_121707542_3469400736439693_69843318038516484_n.jpg

thumbnail_121703072_10215388133530541_8065840720170385726_n.jpg
 

derwoodii

Senior Member.
My OZ state Victoria has endured some 100 plus days of stage 4 lockdown its been a real chore and ruined lives and many business. The debate of $$ cost control vs less control & so more deaths rages among many. But today was a nice warm sunny day and we all can go out shopping things getting back to normal.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/...a-s-covid-19-second-wave-20201027-p5694b.html


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derwoodii

Senior Member.
My OZ state is very pleased with its self if we can get 14 clean days tomoz be amazing

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-12/victoria-records-0-coronavirus-deaths-cases-again/12874988

Several shops in Melbourne's CBD and some train trips have been added to Victoria's list of possible COVID-19 exposure sites.

Key points:​

  • Victoria's 14-day rolling average of new cases per day has dropped to 0.1
  • A positive test in South Australia with links to Melbourne is still thought to be a case of 'viral shedding'
  • A new report has highlighted the areas hardest hit financially by the pandemic
Victoria has recorded no new coronavirus cases or deaths for the 13th consecutive day.
 

econ41

Senior Member
My OZ state Victoria has endured some 100 plus days of stage 4 lockdown its been a real chore and ruined lives and many business. The debate of $$ cost control vs less control & so more deaths rages among many.
In my opinion the Australian experience overall would be a topic for reasonable review clear as far as possible of the "we did better than you" comparisons and risk of bragging. Our overall numbers are have been low. Two states - NSW and Victoria - made significant early mistakes then overcame them. Four factors haven't changed:

The first two are physical realities and should not be controversial:
1) We - Australia - like New Zealand - are a remote island nation and it was physically easy for us to shut the doors to the outside world;

2) Our population is small and scattered despite some concentration on the east-south east coastline and hinterland.

The next two may need objective quantifying :
3) (Most obvious in comparison with the US) - our political leaders Federal/State and all sides - were in and stayed in broad agreement on the broad goals and strategy.

4) (Again - the main contrast with the US) - the Aussie "culture" seems to have been mostly accepting of the rule of law.
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
Article:
Test rate and positivity.png

The y-axis shows the test positivity rate from the German laboratory surveillance; the thickness of the blob for a certain day indicates how many tests samples were taken that day.

Compare to the number of cases:
Article:
Nowcast 11-11.png

It seems obvious that the increase in testing over the summer corresponds to a rise in the number of infections; since tests are driven by people who seek to be tested (because they have symptoms or know someone who does), I expect that infections drive that rise, and not the other way around.

The testing sytem is starting to reach capacity now, with shortages in materials and backlogs of up to 100,000 tests per week being reported. Because our capacity now is much higher than it was during the first wave, we have a lower positivity rate for a higher number of cases, because we can test more at-risk people than we could back in April.
 
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Agent K

Senior Member
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, 65, died of COVID-19. He had a lung transplant in 2017.
Article:
On 12 October 2017, he had a lung transplant at Inova Fairfax Hospital in northern Virginia, United States.
Erekat, who was suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, tested positive for COVID-19 on 9 October 2020. On 18 October, he was sent to the Israeli Hadassah Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem in critical condition. On 21 October, his daughter said on Twitter that he underwent a bronchostomy to examine the condition of his respiratory system. Erekat died of complications from COVID-19 on 10 November 2020 at the age of 65.
 
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Oystein

Senior Member
There's apparent "rounding the curve" in many European countries (I checked Germany, Poland, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain on Worldometers). Not yet in the USA.

Now part of that could be that countries are nearing the maximum test capacity.
According to an article on Der Spiegel online earlier today, the Robert Koch Institut tightened its recommendations on whom to test at the beginning of November, coinciding with tighter lockdown measures: They no longer recommend to test anyone with ordinary symptoms of respiratory diseases (coughs, fever...) - only when those are either more severe than common cold, or when coinciding with a risk contact or when person is in health care or in contact with many people.
The immediate effect of such recommendations, if immediately carried out, is of course a decrease in detected infections - but this effect is difficult to evaluate.
If infection rate does in fact continue to rise, then after a short time (1-2 weeks), a rounded curve should go up again.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Yes.

The thing is, Germany had an effective reproduction rate R>1 all through October, and we have R approximately =1 right now, and we consistently need R<1 to get the numbers down, even if we don't have a measuring error because the test criteria changed. We managed that well back in April/May; but the UK had similar measures, and its case numbers stayed high for much longer. So we don't really know if we're rounding the curve or plateau-ing.

P.S.: The RKI recommendations were tightened more than a week ago; see https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ...eststrategie/Testkriterien_Herbst_Winter.html for the original source (in German). They're still including more people than they did back in March/April, with a much more pronounced focus on preventing clusters.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Sweden is imposing stronger restrictions than in the spring.
Article:
Swedes are not sticking to coronavirus recommendations as well as in the spring and public gatherings will now be limited to eight people, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said, down from a previous upper limit of 300.

"This is the new norm for the entire society," Lofven told a news conference. "Don't go to gyms, don't go to libraries, don't host dinners. Cancel."
[..]
More than 6,000 people with COVID-19 have died in Sweden since the pandemic began, a death rate per capita several times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours, if somewhat lower than some larger European countries such as Spain.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
There's an article out by a North Dakota contact tracer on how the situation is right now, how she works, how the state is doing. It's worth reading in full, but this struck me especially:
Article:
For the past two weeks, North Dakota has had the most new cases per capita in the country. Our hospitalizations have doubled since last month. We have the world’s highest death rate from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Things got so bad, so fast, that we’ve surrendered one of our key weapons against the pandemic: Test and trace went by the wayside. Even if we had enough staff to call up everyone’s workplace and contact, there are so many new infections that it wouldn’t be as effective. At this point, the government has given up on following the virus’s path through the state. All we can do is notify people, as quickly as we can, that they have the virus.

One thing that is underappreciated is that when the case numbers go up, contact tracing doesn't work so well any more; and you need to impose more restrictions to get the numbers to come down. It's better to be careful when the numbers are low because then you can get by with less restrictions. Wear your masks, people! Do the distancing!
 

Oystein

Senior Member
...
Article:
For the past two weeks, North Dakota has had the most new cases per capita in the country. ...
It's true:
I have stuffed a lot of Worldometers data into an MS Access database so I could do quick sums and comparisons and stuff.

For the 2-week period November 04-18, North Dakota not only had more new cases per capita than any other US state, but than any country or territory in the world!
In fact, 8 US states had more new cases per capita than the worst country in the world (Luxembourg):
  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Iowa
  4. Wyoming
  5. Wisconsin
  6. Nebraska
  7. Minnesota
  8. Montana
Where North Dakota had 24,839 per 1 million, Luxembourg 13,073.
North Dakota also leads the WORLD in deaths per capita, with 286 per million in those two weeks. Czechia is second with 243, South Dakota 3rd. The next 16 are all European countries save one.
 

derwoodii

Senior Member.
yay 24 days in my OZ state and no new cases recorded.. The control & management of the bug spread has after poor start gone well that gatherings of size & masks are relaxed .
oh no thanks goes the hand full its a hoax these unhelpful citizens have no claim to this success.

The damage done to economies is not good however some of the more dire predictions dont seem to have evolved shares prices have begun to recover house prices have remained strong not dived unemployment was bad but jobs are returning, stay at home school kids seem to fared well, supply chains held up & we never ran out of toilet paper.


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announces coronavirus restrictions changes, including relaxed rules for face masks

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11...-on-coronavirus-restrictions-changes/12907456

Key points:​

  • From 11:59pm December 13, Victorians will be allowed to have up to 30 visitors to their home per day
  • The Chief Health Officer says he's "confident" Victoria has no community transmission
  • Caps on public gatherings and indoor venues are also being increased from midnight
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Continuing the crossover with the election thread:
Article:
[Jenna] Ellis adds to the growing list of individuals in President Donald Trump's orbit testing positive for coronavirus in recent months. Most recently, Rudy Giuliani, another Trump lawyer working on baseless efforts to challenge the election results, was admitted to the hospital this weekend after testing positive for Covid-19.

Giuliani and Ellis have frequently appeared maskless while crisscrossing the country in recent weeks to advance Trump's baseless election fraud claims.
Giuliani and Ellis have also both eschewed US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quarantine guidelines after coming into close contact [with] campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn, who tested positive in late November.
 

TEEJ

Senior Member.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani receiving same Covid drugs as president​

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has revealed in a call to his own radio show that he is being treated for coronavirus with the same drug cocktail his boss received when he was ill with Covid-19.

He was admitted to hospital on Sunday after becoming the latest official close to Mr Trump to test positive.

Mr Giuliani, 76, told the show he expects to leave hospital on Wednesday.

He has been treated with Remdesivir and Dexamethasone, he explained.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-55243581
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Giuliani gets treated like everyone else, then; no antibody therapy may mean he's doing better than Trump was.
 

TEEJ

Senior Member.
Giuliani gets treated like everyone else, then; no antibody therapy may mean he's doing better than Trump was.
Not really like everyone else. Even Giuliani admits that. The question is why those in the Trump circle always get ready and prompt access to the antibody treatments? I'm quite sure that they don't have to have their names put in a lottery draw.

Wealthy and connected get antibody COVID treatments unavailable to most Americans

President Trump and his friends have received coronavirus antibody treatments that are so scarce that some states and hospitals are giving them out via a lottery system, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Putting aside questions of medical ethics, these high-profile examples of successful coronavirus recoveries could give the impression that the virus is much less dangerous than it is — particularly because most patients won't have access to the same game-changing treatment that these politicians did.

Recipients, in addition to Trump himself, include Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani.
What they're saying: "If it wasn't me, I wouldn't have been put in a hospital frankly," Giuliani told WABC radio. "Sometimes when you're a celebrity, they're worried if something happens to you they’re going to examine it more carefully, and do everything right."

https://www.axios.com/rudy-giuliani...ent-e9575b6a-91a9-444d-b770-2bc5da8158c2.html
 

JMartJr

Active Member
(quote from Axios) these high-profile examples of successful coronavirus recoveries could give the impression that the virus is much less dangerous than it is — particularly because most patients won't have access to the same game-changing treatment that these politicians did.

Recipients, in addition to Trump himself, include Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani.



https://www.axios.com/rudy-giuliani...ent-e9575b6a-91a9-444d-b770-2bc5da8158c2.html

I note that one in four of those examples died. Not sure that failure rate glosses over the danger, for me anyway.
 

DavidB66

Active Member
Reading comments on Twitter or YouTube about the dangers (or otherwise) of Covid-19, I frequently see people, especially anti-maskers and antivaxers, claiming that the death rate is extremely low, for example 0.004% - that is, 4 per 100,000, or 40 per million. When I ask where they get such figures I seldom get a reply. This Reuters article from way back in April discusses and debunks the claim, but it evidently persists, seemingly immune to facts.
False claim: The death rate of the new coronavirus is 0.004 percent | Reuters
(I suspect incidentally that this all started when someone somewhere confused decimals with percentages, and substituted 0.004% for 0.004 - i.e. 4 per 1,000 - which is (or was) a more defensible figure for deaths as a proportion of infections.)

In any event, a lot has happened since April. There have been a lot more deaths and - importantly - a lot more tests, some of them on random samples of a national population. In the UK, for example, the Office for National Statistics sponsors a regular survey. The most recent bulletin is here Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK - Office for National Statistics It estimates that in a recent week around 1% of the population was infected. In some countries more than half the entire population (e.g. USA, UK, Russia, Spain) has been tested at some time (NB the figures often show the number of tests, not the number of individuals, so there will be some double-counting). It is increasingly difficult to argue that the published death rates grossly overestimate the ratio of deaths to infections because only the relatively severe cases are tested.

In most Western countries (Europe and the Americas) the death rate as a ratio of Covid-related deaths to known infections is between 1 and 4 percent. (I use the Worldometers tables unless otherwise stated) The ratio in Asia and Africa is usually far lower, notably Singapore, with only 0.04%. As I've mentioned before, the reasons for these intercontinental differences are not clear - for example why has Africa got some of the lowest apparent death rates while South America has some of the highest?

But even if we take the raw death rates in the population as a whole, and not the ratio of deaths to infections, in many Western countries the proportion of Covid-related deaths in the total population is now above or approaching 1000 per million, or one in a thousand. This sets a lower limit of about 0.1% for the death rate among infected people, and the true figure is probably at least 1%. So much for the 0.004% figure.
I don't suppose that mere facts will make much impact on the anti-vaxers, but they might have some effect on the undecided.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
why has Africa got some of the lowest apparent death rates
There is no "true" death rate; risk factors like age and obesity factor in how deadly the virus is for parts of the population. This means that countries with a lower life expectancy (fewer old people!) and fewer obese people can be expected to have fewer deaths among those suffering from Covid-19. Countries who manage to protect their care homes have fewer deaths because fewer old people get sick. Countries where families still live together inter-generationally may see more deaths since old people get infected more easily. It's always difficult to compare these things across different populations!
How overloaded the hospitals are is a factor on how well patients survive getting intubated. Many things are factors.

But really the issue that matters most is hospital capacity. If you have too few beds in the ICUs, people will die who might otherwise live. Discussion about mortality detracts from the simple fact that hospitals are getting loaded with cases, and that this number needs to go down.

We'l hopefully reach population immunity across most of the world next year, and then virus activity will hopefully die down, and that may be the end of it.
 

Leak

New Member
praised a crowd of maskless pro-Trump rally-goers as a "group of people that gets it."

Considering they were all not wearing a mask that doesn't come as much of a surprise - surely he was really talking about COVID-19?
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
The claim has been making the rounds that there's a mutation in the UK that makes the virus "spread 70% faster".

Boris Johnson, 19 December 2020
Article:
NERVTAG’s early analysis suggests the new variant could increase R by 0.4 or greater. Although there is considerable uncertainty, it may be up to 70% more transmissible than the old variant.

This is early data. It is subject to review. It is the best we have at the moment, and we have to act on information as we have it because this is now spreading very fast.

I wasn't able to find any authoritative source that has made that sort of claim, and I'd find it very improbable as well. The virus mutates all the time, but most mutations don't do anything. Some strain is going to fluctuate to be more prevalent simply by random chance, i.e. have it involved in a few superspreader events feeding off each other and that "strain" could establish "dominance" even though it doesn't spread any different.

Public Health England, December 14th:
Article:
The strain was identified due to Public Health England’s (PHE) proactive and enhanced monitoring following the increase in cases seen in Kent and London. The variant has been named ‘VUI – 202012/01’ (the first Variant Under Investigation in December 2020).
[..]
PHE is working with partners to investigate and plans to share its findings over the next 2 weeks. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the strain has any impact on disease severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy.

High numbers of cases of the variant virus have been observed in some areas where there is also a high incidence of COVID-19. It is not yet known whether the variant is responsible for these increased numbers of cases. PHE will monitor the impact of this in the coming days and weeks.


The BMJ is a weekly peer-reviewed medical trade journal, published by the trade union the British Medical Association. (Published 16 December 2020)
Article:

What do we know about this new SARS-CoV-2 variant?​

It’s been snappily named VUI-202012/01 (the first “Variant Under Investigation” in December 2020) and is defined by a set of 17 changes or mutations. One of the most significant is an N501Y mutation in the spike protein that the virus uses to bind to the human ACE2 receptor. Changes in this part of spike protein may, in theory, result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people.
[..]
Nick Loman, professor of microbial genomics and bioinformation at the University of Birmingham, told a briefing by the Science Media Centre on 15 December that the variant was first spotted in late September and now accounts for 20% of viruses sequenced in Norfolk, 10% in Essex, and 3% in Suffolk
[..]
Matt Hancock told the House of Commons on 14 December that initial analysis showed that the new variant “may be associated” with the recent rise in cases in southeast England. However, this is not the same as saying that it is causing the rise.

Loman explained, “This variant is strongly associated with where we are seeing increasing rates of covid-19. It’s a correlation, but we can’t say it is causation. But there is striking growth in this variant, which is why we are worried, and it needs urgent follow-up and investigation.”

[..]

SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus, and mutations arise naturally as the virus replicates. Many thousands of mutations have already arisen, but only a very small minority are likely to be important and to change the virus in an appreciable way. COG-UK says that there are currently around 4000 mutations in the spike protein.

[..]

The new variant has mutations to the spike protein that the three leading vaccines are targeting. However, vaccines produce antibodies against many regions in the spike protein, so it’s unlikely that a single change would make the vaccine less effective.


Published 19 December 2020, Department of Health and Social Care
Article:
Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty said:
As announced on Monday, the UK has identified a new variant of Covid-19 through Public Health England’s genomic surveillance.
As a result of the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary modelling data and rapidly rising incidence rates in the South East, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now consider that the new strain can spread more quickly.


If it turns out that the virus doesn't actually spread any better than it did before, at least that news coverage will have made people distance more over the holidays, which is good in any case. Better safe than sorry.

P.S.: Wikipedia has an article on VUI – 202012/01 , but right now, it seems to have less information than the sources I quoted above.
 
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Mauro

Active Member
The best reference I found is the article from British Journal of Medicine (https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4857, linked in the wikipedia page). What they say is "we detected a new variant, we do not know anything else".

Does this variant spread more quickly?​

Matt Hancock told the House of Commons on 14 December that initial analysis showed that the new variant “may be associated” with the recent rise in cases in southeast England. However, this is not the same as saying that it is causing the rise.
Loman explained, “This variant is strongly associated with where we are seeing increasing rates of covid-19. It’s a correlation, but we can’t say it is causation. But there is striking growth in this variant, which is why we are worried, and it needs urgent follow-up and investigation.” [as most infos on the new variant, there are incoherencies here too.. "may be associated" or "is strongly associated"? who knows..).

Is the new variant more dangerous?​

We don’t know yet. Mutations that make viruses more infectious don’t necessarily make them more dangerous. A number of variants have already been detected in the UK. For example, the D614G variant is believed to have increased the ability of the virus to be transmitted and is now the most common type circulating in the UK, although it doesn’t seem to result in more severe disease.
Public Health England’s laboratory at Porton Down is currently working to find any evidence that the new variant increases or decreases the severity of disease. Susan Hopkins, joint medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England, said, “There is currently no evidence that this strain causes more severe illness, although it is being detected in a wide geography, especially where there are increased cases being detected.”


So at the moment I see no reason to worry, I would not discount the possibilty Johnson needed some excuse to make the Christmas lockdown palatable and VUI-202012/01 filled the bill, and this made VUI-202012/01 famous (while many other variants, as the D614G above, missed the spotlight) Time will tell.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
The best reference I found is the article from British Journal of Medicine (https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4857, linked in the wikipedia page).
And also quoted in my own post above yours.
This is what ProMED mail (https://promedmail.org/) says (15 Dec 2020):
ProMED mail mostly digests press sources. In this case, it's a BBC Health article from 6 days ago, posted at https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55308211 .

Read the source at the bottom of my post; I found that through the "News" link at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus , and it's a few days more recent.

My main takeaway from the BBC article:
Article:
He told MPs in the House of Commons that over the last week, there had been sharp, exponential rises in coronavirus infections across London, Kent, parts of Essex, and Hertfordshire. [..] "We do not know the extent to which this is because of the new variant but no matter its cause we have to take swift and decisive action which unfortunately is absolutely essential to control this deadly disease while the vaccine is rolled out."

It doesn't matter if they've pinned down the correct cause, lockdown will slow the spread either way, and that's essential.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Biden will be releasing all the held up vaccines starting january 20th yay!
Article:
“He supports releasing available doses immediately and believes the government should stop holding back vaccine supply so we can get more shots in Americans’ arms now,” T.J. Ducklo, a spokesperson for Biden’s transition team, said in an email.


The Department of Health and Human Services had reportedly only distributed 45% of available vaccines in the U.S., as of Christmas Eve, according to a Dec. 24 op-ed written by a conservative columnist for The Washington Post.

Governors of eight states including California, Kansas, and New York sent a letter Friday to the government citing the op-ed and demanding “the federal government begin distributing these reserved doses to states immediately.”
 
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