April 19 2021

The Indian variant of the SARS Co V 2 virus, named as the B.1.167 variant has only been known about since the 25th March so there has still not been enough time to fully evaluate its virulence. Preliminary findings suggest it MAY be more transmissible and the current vaccine MAY be less effective. It would seem to be unique in having 2 significant mutations. These mutations are known as the E484Q and the L452R mutations. The former is also seen in the South African and Brazilian variants, and the latter in the Californian variant. Most of the genome sequencing has been done outside India which has very little resources to do it themselves. In the UK, 162 cases of the Indian variants were identified by the 16th April and since then a further 20 cases are identified. Surge testing is being done around every case in the UK.

As a direct result of the crisis in India, Boris Johnson has cancelled his planned trip to New Delhi next week and India has been placed on the UK Red list of travel restrictions. Lockdown conditions have been ordered for the New Delhi region.

In India there were 280,000 new infections yesterday, nearly triple the previous high figure recorded last September. There have been more than 1,000 deaths daily in the last five days. All the hospitals are overrun with widespread shortages of oxygen.

We know more about the Californian variant known as B.1.429 as it was discovered back in December. It has the same mutation known as L452R mutation as the Indian variant. It is thought to be 20% more infectious than the standard virus.

Greece has lifted quarantine restrictions for travellers from the UK, most of the EU, the USA and Israel. There is still considerable chaos in their hospitals but Greece desperately needs tourism back.Thailand has seen a large cluster of new cases in Bangkok, largely affecting the night life venues. The Government have put tough lockdown measures in place, with schools, bars and restaurants all closed and shopping malls have reduced opening hours. 4 emergency field hospitals have been opened.

Here in the UK, we tested 1,673,788 cases yesterday. This figure does vary considerably day by day and I suspect it reflects mass testing on some days of the work force and school children. From those tests 2,963 were found to be positive. To try to smooth the data, we look at the variations over the previous 7 day average. This then shows a 10% drop since the previous week and represents 27.2 cases per 100k of the population.

Deaths are down to single figures, only 4 reported, but part of the last 24 hours was a Sunday when registering deaths is difficult. Tomorrow will be more representative.The hospital data has not been updated but less than 200 per day need admission now and only a little over 2,000 are in hospital.

Vaccination figures continue to impress. 32.93million 1st doses and 10.15 million second doses were given. We remain on course to immunise all adults by the end of July. That is if the vaccine supply can be maintained.

To be sure we have tamed this pandemic there needs to be a very high, 85% plus, coverage for everyone in the world. We need to get these made and put into arms quickly. The variants and mutations are there, threatening to disrupt all our plans. We know they will continue to keep happening, what do not know is if and when a resistant one is going to appear which will make our current vaccination programme useless.

As we relax our lockdown little by little in the UK make sure you do not go too fast. Avoid crowded places, especially anywhere near out break hotspots. Please do not travel abroad unless its vital. We are doing well here but it’s a very precarious position and far from over yet. Remember the mask and plenty of hand sanitation.

Please stay safe and follow all the guidance.

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