Great Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to shut down several parts of the country for Christmas due to a new coronavirus strain. Researchers say it spreads more effectively by 70 percent.
The new COVID-19 strain apparently is no deadlier and could not make the people sicker. Yet, it spreads faster than the original virus, which alarmed the British government into canceling Christmas.
The researchers also believe the Pfizer vaccine would still be effective, but scientists cannot confirm it.
CNN reported that according to Chief Medical Professor Chris Whitty, the new coronavirus strain had infected 60 percent in London, which almost doubled in the last week.
Earlier, Whitty said an “urgent work” is underway to study whether the new strain can cause a higher mortality rate. The new strain is prevalent in southeast England.
“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments, although urgent work is underway to confirm this,” said Whitty in a statement.
NBC News also reported that non-essential gyms, shops, hairdressers, cinemas, and bowling alleys would be forced to shut down for two weeks. People would also be restricted from meeting other households in an outdoor public space.
Johnson said a “bubble” policy that allows a maximum of three households to meet over the holiday period would only be applied on Christmas Day.
Johnson also said he “bitterly regretted” the changes but insisted they were “necessary.”
The initial estimate on the speed of virus spread is based on “preliminary modeling” with only a couple of thousand cases. The number might still go down after a month or two.
If the vaccine is effective (although yet to be proven), and the mortality rate is not higher, why is the British government very concerned?
With the new strain having a faster transmission, more people get infected in just a short period. It could still get more people ill, which would need more hospital beds. Hospitals have been battered since the pandemic.
Thus, Prime Minister Johnson felt he needed to act. However, we have already learned that lockdowns had minimal effect in controlling the virus’ spread. The new strain would still be present, and when the virus begins to infect people again, the cycle only continues – reopening, restrictions, relaxed restrictions, and another lockdown. The people have had enough.