Britains Mutant Coronavirus Strain Has Swamped the Nation, but a Worse Variant Has Already Arrived

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

The daily rate of cases has more than tripled in little over a monthand the measures that worked last year are simply not enough this time round.

Stefan Rousseau/Reuters

Scotland went first. Its devolved nationalist government had already closed the border to England after Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the new variant was running wild down south. On Monday, Scotlands first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced a lockdown every bit as strict as the one in spring. Her message: Stay at home, and keep your kids out of school, or well end up as screwed as England.

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Sturgeon has estimated that Scotland is now about four weeks behind Englands surge, but the new ruleswhich force Scots by law not to leave their homes except for a few essential purposesare designed to prevent the country from spiraling out of control like its neighbors. Scotland is recording 188.3 cases per 100,000, less than half the rate of England over the past seven days, according to government figures.

Asked what was taking him so long to do something, Johnson said: What we have been waiting for is to see the impact of the tier four measures on the virus and it is a bit unclear, still, at the moment. But if you look at the numbers, there is no question that we are going to have to take tougher measures and we will be announcing those in due course.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted that the rules that had worked since springs lockdown are no longer strong enough.

Even more worryingly, though, is Hancocks belief that the new British variant may not even be the biggest threat facing an already engulfed nation. He said Monday that hes incredibly worried about a South African variant that has been deemed even more transmissible than the British oneand two cases of it have been confirmed in Britain.

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Hancock told the BBC on Monday: This is a very, very significant problem... even more of a problem than the U.K. new variant.

One reason for that concern may be that British experts have openly queried whether the current vaccines will work on the South African mutant. John Bell, a University of Oxford professor and government vaccine adviser, has said theres a big question mark as to whether the existing vaccines will work on the South African variant.

Its clear that Britain is in a bad situationwhats much less clear is if this is as bad as it will get, if new measures will be enough to control the virus mutant, and what happens if an even worse one takes hold.

Read more on: thedailybeast, britains, strain

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