A World Health Organization official said Monday it is reclassifying the Indian Sars-Cov-2 variant B.1.617 as a “variant of concern,” indicating that it’s become a global health threat. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said the agency will provide more details in its weekly situation report on the pandemic Tuesday but added that the variant, known as B.1.617, has been found in preliminary studies to spread more easily than the original virus and there is some evidence it may able to evade vaccines.
“as such we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level,” she said during a press conference. “Even though there is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies, we need much more information about this virus variant in this lineage in all of the sub lineages, so we need more sequencing, targeted sequencing to be done.”
The Seychelles, which has fully vaccinated over 60% of its population against Covid-19, is bringing back restrictions amid a rise in cases. The archipelago of nearly 100,000 people recorded close to 500 new cases in the three days to 1 May and has about 1,000 active cases. A third of the active cases involved people who have had two vaccine doses, the country’s news agency said. The rest had either had a single dose or were unvaccinated.
There are currently 1,068 active Covid cases in the Seychelles, of which a third have been detected in people given two doses of either AstraZeneca’s or China’s Sinopharm’s vaccine. It unclear what has triggered the surge in cases but testing has detected the South African variant spreading on the islands. (Daily Mail report)
Graph courtesy of Ourworldindata.org
Alexander Gintsburg, head of the Gamaleya institute that developed Russia’s Sputnik V human vaccine, was quoted in Izvestia newspaper as saying COVID-19 was likely to hit animals next. “The next stage of the epidemic is the infection with the coronavirus of farm and domestic animals,” Gintsburg said.
Russia has produced the world’s first batch – 17,000 doses – of COVID-19 vaccines for animals, its agricultural regulator said on Friday. Russia registered Carnivac-Cov in March after tests showed it generated antibodies against COVID-19 in dogs, cats, foxes and mink.
WHO: The virus can also spread in poorly ventilated and/or crowded indoor settings, where people tend to spend longer periods of time. This is because aerosols remain suspended in the air or travel farther than 1 metre (long-range).
How is this graph even possible? For more than one year the global death toll for Sars-Cov-2 has oscillated between ~5,000 deaths a day to ~20,000 deaths a day creating a pattern that is almost ECG like in its uniformity. Answers on a postcard please, because we do not see anything natural about this graph.
In Manouba, Tunisia, six contaminations by an unidentified strain were detected on April 20, announces the regional health directorate. Sequencing of the virus has shown that it is an unidentified strain, explained the regional health director cited by TAP.
The minister reported a clear deterioration in the situation, reiterating his appeal to Tunisians to respect preventive measures against the coronavirus. According to the minister’s statements, the South African variant is very present in Libya. “The PCR tests carried out at border crossings on an ongoing basis are due to the spread of the South African variant in Libya,” he explained.
Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory Dr Cillian de Gascun said that there have been three cases of the recent variant [B.1.617] first identified in India. Dr De Gascun said at least two of them are associated with travel. He said NPHET does not have any data to determine whether the variant is more transmissible or not, but said at this stage people need to remain vigilant and try to contain it locally. Separately, 24 cases of the P.1 variant, which was first found in Brazil, have so far been confirmed in Ireland, while 55 cases of B.1.351 South African variant have also been confirmed.
People in the UK have been infected with Covid-19 more than once thanks to catching different variants of the coronavirus. Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, said there had been cases where people had become reinfected by different strains of the coronavirus. “We have seen some people who have had their first dose of vaccine who have had the South African variant and the variant that arose in Kent,” she told BBC’s the Andrew Marr show. “You can see that they’re not as good against the South African variant as they are against our own (variant) B117 at preventing infection and transmission.”
Forbes are carrying an interesting about the recently discovered coronavirus variant found in Tanzania, Africa in travellers arriving from Angola. The variant is from “From An Entirely New Branch Of SARS-CoV-2”, and carries Spike mutations E484K, P681H, T478R, Q957H, H655Y, D215G, D80Y. L210N, W258L, R246I. “An additional 18 amino acid changes occur in proteins outside the spike protein. These include 14 in the orf1ab proteins that specify the replication complex. “
“This is a remarkable illustration of convergent evolution,” say’s Forbes
The Covid-19 pandemic is in a critical phase, the World Health Organization said Monday, warning cases were surging despite proven measures to rein in the spread. “We are in a critical point of the pandemic right now,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, told reporters. “The trajectory of this pandemic is growing. It is growing exponentially. This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, when we have proven control measures,” she said.
"We are in a CRITICAL POINT of the #COVID19 pandemic now…. A year ago we had abt 500K cases reported per week, last week we had 4.4 million cases… This is NOT the situation we wanna be in 16 months into the pandemic where we have proven control measures."-@mvankerkhove pic.twitter.com/7bN7TQhs6A
— Sari Setiogi Griberg (@setiogi) April 12, 2021
The Nigerian government has quietly ditched the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine meant to vaccinate tens of millions of citizens, and will gradually shift to the Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, saying it is easier to administer.
Documents from the Nigerian Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) obtained by Health Policy Watch show that the agency intends to begin rolling out the J&J vaccine to almost 30 million people as soon as it can obtain the vaccine supplies.
While denying that safety concerns are an issue, the Nigerian government’s move also comes amidst growing global concerns about AstraZeneca’s efficacy against the SARS-CoV2 virus variant first identified in South Africa, as well as safety concerns that have led to the suspension of AstraZeneca vaccines for people under the age of 60 in Germany, and elsewhere.
February 2021: We report here newly emerging A sub-lineages, A.23 and A.23.1, encoding replacements in the spike protein, nsp6, ORF8 and ORF9, with A.23.1 the major virus lineage now observed in Kampala.
Of concern, the recent Kampala and global A.23.1 virus sequences from December 2020-January 2021 now encoded 4 or 5 amino acid changes in the spike protein (now defining lineage A.23.1, see below) plus additional protein changes in nsp3, nsp6, ORF8 and ORF9 (Figure 3, 4). The P681R spike change encoded by all recent Kampala genomes since December 2020 adds a basic amino acid adjacent to the spike furin cleavage site. This same change has been shown in vitro to enhance the fusion activity of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, likely due to increased cleavage by the cellular furin protease (23); importantly, a similar change (P681H) is encoded by the recently emerging VOC B.1.1.7 that is now spreading globally across 75 countries as of 5 February 2021 (5) (24). There are also changes in the spike N-terminal domain (NTD), a known target of immune selection, observed in samples from Kampala A.23.1 lineage, including P26S and R102I plus 8 additional singleton changes (observed in only one genome,