B.1.1.7 #coronavirus variant infections have the potential to cause substantial additional mortality

The mortality hazard ratio associated with infection with VOC-202012/1 [B.1.1.7] compared to infection with previously circulating variants is 1.64 in patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the community. In this comparatively low risk group, this represents an increase from 2.5 to 4.1 deaths per 1000 detected cases.

Medrxiv Preprint  Increased hazard of mortality in cases compatible with SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern 202012/1 – a matched cohort study




16 cases of new #coronavirus variant VUI-202102/04, B1.1.318 under investigation in Britain

Sixteen cases of a new variant, VUI-202102/04 (lineage B.1.1.318), have been identified in the UK. The variant has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) by Public Health England (PHE).

Cases of this variant, understood to have originated in the UK, were first identified on 15 February through genomic horizon scanning. All individuals who tested positive and their contacts have been traced and advised to isolate.

Following assessments, the variant was designated a VUI on 24 February. It contains the E484K mutation, which is also found in 2 existing VUIs present in the UK, but does not feature the N501Y mutation, present in all variants of concern (VOCs).

The addition of this variant as a VUI means there are now a total of 4 VUIs and 4 VOCs currently being tracked in the UK.

Gov.uk variant statement

Daily Mail report


Image by Stuart Allen from Pixabay

#Coronavirus variant circulating in #Brescia, Italy since August 2020 has #501 and #493 mutation. Possible B.1.1.7 precursor.

“A variant of coronavirus circulating in Italy since early August 2020 is “very similar to the infamous English variant [B.1.1.7]”.

An ” Italian variant ” discovered in Brescia, “which precedes the variant that emerged only at the end of September in the United Kingdom and then spread to Europe, including Italy, and could also be a precursor”.

This was announced to Adnkronos Salute by Arnaldo Caruso , president of the Italian Society of Virology (Siv-Isv), full professor of Microbiology and Clinical Microbiology at the University of Brescia, director of the Asst Spedali Civili microbiology laboratory.

The variant identified, he explains, “has several points mutation in the Spike protein , the ‘hook’ that the virus uses to attack the receptor present on target cells in our body. Like the English one, the Italian variant also has a mutation in a nerve center of the Spike / cell receptor interaction, more precisely in position 501 ″.

But unlike the Gb mutant, “the Italian variant also has a second mutation in position 493, which makes its Spike protein slightly different from that of the pandemic virus we all know today”.

Calabriadirettanews.com article



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UK alert issued after Brazil #P1 #Manaus variant was found in a #coronavirus test without a name on it

UK health officials want anyone who took a test on February 12 or 13 and has not yet had their result or did not complete their registration card to get in touch immediately.

An urgent alert has been issued after six cases of the Brazilian variant of coronavirus were found in the UK – and health officials have no idea where one of them is. The alert was issued tonight after the P1 variant was found in a Covid test without a name on it.

Health officials want anyone who took a test on February 12 or 13 and has not yet had their result or did not complete their registration card to get in touch immediately.

Leeds-live.co.uk report


Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Imperial College study: 2% of babies born to #coronavirus positive UK mothers later test positive for the virus themselves

The proportion of babies born to mothers with confirmed COVID-19, and who subsequently tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19) was 2 per cent in the UK study, and 1.8 per cent in the US study.

The majority of women in the study had no pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or a respiratory condition such as asthma.

In the UK study eight of the women died, while four women died in the US study.

The study team say that although these death rates are higher than expected for women giving birth, they are similar to the expected death rates seen among adults with a confirmed COVID-19 infection. This suggests that women in pregnancy are not at a higher risk of death from COVID-19 than non-pregnant women.

Full Imperial College Report


 Image by Cindy Parks from Pixabay

Six cases of #Manaus, Brazil #P1 #coronavirus variant found in #UK for first time

Six cases of the Manaus Brazilian coronavirus variant have been identified in the UK, Public Health England has said. It is the first time the variant, known as P.1, P1 or B1128 has been identified in the UK.

Two of the cases are from one household in South Gloucestershire, with a history of travel to Brazil. The third case is currently unlinked and an investigation is underway to find the individual as they did not fill in their test registration card so follow-up details are not available, PHE said. Three more cases have been identified in Scotland.

Full Telegraph.co.uk report


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Teachers should be prepared to ‘sacrifice their lives’ to open #schools in coronavirus pandemic, says ex-Ofsted head

The former head of Ofsted has said that teachers need to show a “similar commitment” to medical professionals, who in some cases have “sacrificed their lives.”

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former chief inspector of schools, said there has to be a “pulling together’ among teachers and that they have to exhibit the same level of devotion as medics who have “gone the extra” mile during the pandemic, in order to get children caught up with their studies when schools return early next month.


Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

So where’s the Flu? Not a single case of #influenza #flu detected by Public Health England this year

Not a single case of influenza has been detected by public health officials in England for the past seven weeks, with infection rates at historic lows amid the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

The social restrictions brought in to curb transmission of coronavirus, combined with increased uptake of the flu vaccine, have both been credited with driving down infections.

The Independent Article


An alternative possibility to social distancing causing the drop in flu infections:

“Our study shows that during coinfections, one virus can block another simply by being the first to infect the available host cells; there is no need for viral interference through immune response interactions. We use the model to calculate the duration of detectable coinfection and examine how it varies as initial viral dose and time of infection are varied. We find that rhinovirus, the fastest-growing virus, reduces replication of the remaining viruses during a coinfection, while parainfluenza virus, the slowest-growing virus is suppressed in the presence of other viruses.”

Coinfections of the Respiratory Tract




Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay

UK #SAGE: summary of modelling on scenarios for easing #coronavirus restrictions

Four scenarios have been modelled that differ in the speed of easing restrictions from current levels to minimal measures. All four scenarios modelled lead to a substantial resurgence in hospital admissions and deaths.

The scale and timing of these resurgences are critically dependent on very uncertain modelled assumptions, including real world vaccine effectiveness against severe disease and infection; vaccine coverage and rollout speed; behavioural factors; and the extent to which baseline measures (which could be voluntary) continue to reduce transmission once restrictions are lifted. Given this uncertainty, it would be inadvisable to tie changes in policy to dates instead of data.

SPI-M-O: Summary of modelling on scenarios for easing restrictions
Date: 7th February 2021

Full SAGE paper (PDF file)

Formal GOV.UK introductory page


UK has sequenced about 45% to 48% of all #SARSCoV2 #genomes in the #Gisaid database.

The UK is a world leader in sequencing SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Of all the coronavirus genomes that have been sequenced in the world, nearly half have been sequenced by COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (Cog-UK). The consortium began life on March 4 when Sharon Peacock, a professor of public health and microbiology at the University of Cambridge, emailed a handful of scientists and asked for their help.

Full interview with Sharon Peacock of COG_UK on The Conversation





Image by Vesna Harni from Pixabay

#Coronavirus surge testing in Brentwood, Essex after South African variant #501YV2 501Y.V2 detected

People in part of Essex, England are being urged to take a coronavirus test when offered, after the South African variant 501Y.V2 was discovered there.

Targeted testing will be offered to residents in the CM13 postcode in Brentwood after one case of the South African variant was detected.

Surge testing has also been carried out at:

East of England

  • Norfolk County Council (specific areas within IP22)


  • London Borough of Ealing (specific areas in and near to the W7 postcode)
  • London Borough of Lambeth (specific areas in the SE21 and SW16 postcodes)

North East

  • Middlesbrough Council (specific areas within the TS7 and TS8 postcodes)

North West

  • Metropolitan Borough of Sefton (Dukes and Cambridge wards)
  • Manchester City Council (specific areas in the following postcodes: M9, M14, M15, M16 and M40)

South East

  • Hampshire County Council (specific areas in the RG26 postcode)
  • Southampton City Council (specific areas in the SO15 postcode)
  • Surrey County Council (specific areas in the GU22 postcode)

South West

  • Bristol City Council (specific areas in the following postcodes: BS1, BS2, BS3, BS4, BS5, BS6, BS8, BS9, BS14 and BS16)
  • South Gloucestershire Council (specific areas in the following postcodes: BS16 and BS37)

West Midlands

  • Birmingham City Council (specific areas in and near to the B31 postcode)
  • Staffordshire County Council (Stafford District)
  • Walsall Council (Pleck ward)
  • Worcestershire County Council (specific areas in and near to the WR3 postcode)

Yorkshire and the Humber

  • Leeds City Council (specific areas within the LS8 and LS9 postcodes)


ITV report on Essex Surge Testing

UK.gov advice on Surge Testing


Image by Elchinator from Pixabay

Just 8 per cent of English voters said they trust Mr Johnson “completely” to take the country out of lockdown in a safe way

Just 26 per cent of those questioned in a survey for The Independent newspaper agreed that English children should go back to school in early March, as the PM Boris Johnson has suggested. A further 26 per cent said he should wait until after the Easter holidays and 38 per cent later.

The Independent article


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