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Resurgence of Covid infections worldwide

Mutations are driving the resurgence of Covid infections worldwide.

The virulent mutants include the UK, South Africa, Brazilian and most recently, the Indian strain, given the name B1617.

Since hitting a peak in September last year, cases in India began dropping continuously despite not having rolled out any vaccination program while other countries were experiencing a surge in infections. All sorts of reasons were ascribed, including the population is young, they are more exposed to other virus and therefore more resistant, the weather, etc. Nobody knew for sure but they hoped their luck would continue, but lo and behold, just as it had dropped decisively, it began rising steeply in late February this year, surpassing the previous daily peak.

More than 50% of the new cases are due to the new strain. “We did the maths – we do believe that a lot of the increase in the reproduction number can be explained by these mutations…..yes, the mutations are a big cause for worry,” Dr Nithya Balasubramanian, the head of healthcare research at Bernstein India, told Bloomberg TV this week.

This strain has not one, but two mutations. One of the mutations, given the name L452R, is “well characterised in US studies. It increases viral transmission by around 20 per cent and reduces antibody efficacy by more than 50 per cent”, says Dr Agrawal, director of the state-run Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s genomics institute. He further adds, “it has two critical mutations that make it more likely to transmit and escape prior immunity”.

This variant has been detected in at least 10 other countries, including the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, according to the situation report on outbreak.info.

A surveillance report by the UK government said it has found 77 cases in England and Scotland so far, designating it as a “variant under investigation”. New Zealand has temporarily suspended arrivals of its citizens and residents from India due to the spike in the number returning with Covid-19.

Given these developments, there is good reason to be cautious and suspend arrivals from India. If we look at the daily Covid cases here in Singapore, almost all of them are imported, with a large number from India. Some of these cases escape detection despite testing and quarantine, and go on to infect the community.

As a case in point, today’s Sunday Times reported 4 community cases. Two of them contracted the virus from a 34-year-old Indian researcher working at NUS, who just came back from India.

Another is a 41-year-old female Permanent Resident who was infected by a house mate who came back on April 2, also from India.

The government, understandably, wants to re-open the border, sooner rather than later. However, in its haste, it must not under-estimate the risks, especially from India.

Lest, the government thinks vaccination is the silver bullet that can allow us to open our borders, this is what Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organisation’s technical lead officer on Covid-19, says about the Indian variant, “Having two mutations, with each having been seen in other variants around the world, is concerning,” adding that these mutations have a likelihood to increase transmission as well as reduce neutralisation, possibly stunting the ability of vaccines to curb them.

India is testing whether the new variants are capable of “immune escape or not”, that is, whether they can evade antibodies in people who have been vaccinated or previously infected by the earlier strains of the virus. If the new India variant shows “immune escape” behaviour, it would have deep ramifications for vaccination programs, they risk being jeopardised if the vaccine shots turn out to be less effective against this double mutation variant.

It is far better to keep the Indian variant out of our shores, including temporarily suspending arrivals from India, than risk a resurgence of infections.

 

Foong Swee Fong

 

 

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6 Responses to “Resurgence of Covid infections worldwide”

  • Smart Nation:

    The G believes in managing the virus instead of closing the borders. They put the people through so much inconvenience with all the CB rules and fines to stop the spread, but allow foreigners to bring in the virus every day from India and other countries. HK and NZ are turning away flights from India. Wonder which is the smarter nation?

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  • TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLE:

    The mutants are probably in their teenage stage.
    Once they become more matured they can be conferred the
    NinjaVirus title.

    So new vaccines such as NinjaVac or NinjaWarrior must be produced in time to counter the impending attacks which are indeed very real.

    And it’s all rampantly commercialised so as to enrich the pharmaceutical and political elites.

    Sheeples are shackled to the viles-and-needles time and time again.

    Perhaps, a boilogical vaccum cleaner should be invented to suck the mutant strains out of the infected bodies should vaccines fail to carry out their common mission.

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  • oxygen:

    THE DANGERS ARE that current vaccines are all rendered IMPOTENT, the surge in pandemic infection for lock-down and another catastrophic economic tsunami sweeping across the globe.

    The poor will die from starvation even if the pandemic infection missed its targets among the human poor.

    What will become of LEE-jiapore still recognisable a year from that disastrous outbreak point?

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  • xoxo:

    Recklessness in public policy practices have caused many ordinary sgs to suffer.
    Sgs suffer unemployment from reckless FT POLICY IMPLEMENTATIONS,from over-crowding that resulted in mrt breakdowns,hospital crunch etc.

    While dumping at LIGHTNING SPEED so many FTs,we oso import germs n diseases that brought about a resurgence in TB cases etc.

    We need to be more cautious.
    We cannot afford to be *sloppy*.
    It is better to be a smaller healthy nation than to have a sick nation even if there are twice the size in an augmented population?

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/masks-come-off-israel-covid-19-vaccine-pfizer-14646688

    https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/israel-to-buy-millions-of-pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-doses-14653954

    Been more than a week my mom taken 2nd shot. Same feedback as first shot but surprisingly many rumours o line saying 2nd shot will feel more worst. My mom say she feels better for 2nd shot.

    My 78 years old neighbour uncle who on and off suffers from mild running nose ( without flu ) , no more relapse for weeks after both shots.

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