During the day in the UK, almost 36 thousand people were infected with covid-19. Due to the closure of borders after the discovery of a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus, panic purchases of food began in the UK. Before Christmas, the country's food supply and vaccine delivery were under threat, the Daily Mail writes. Store shelves may soon be empty, the store owners warn.
People line up at supermarkets from five in the morning. Many stores will go bankrupt as UK pre-Christmas sales have stopped. London is empty again. London Mayor Sadiq Kahn in an interview with Sky News called the coming Christmas "the worst since World War II". 18 million people were quarantined.
The Port of Dover is closed to trucks leaving for Europe. Entry into the UK is open for them, but there are great fears that they will not be allowed back into France, and then cars and drivers will be stuck in England. The Pfizer-Bayontek vaccine, which has been purchased by the government, is produced in Belgium, so the authorities fear that it will not be available. The newspaper writes that strict quarantine is not excluded until Easter, that is, until April.
The London Stock Exchange, which opened on Monday, lost 33 trillion pounds within 10 minutes as the markets fell 2%. This is how the exchange reacted to the introduction of lockdowns in London and the southeast, as well as fears about a tough Brexit and increased chaos in the ports.
UK cut off from Europe
France, Germany, Italy and 17 other European countries have stopped flights to British airports, writes The Guardian . Aircraft from England are also not accepted. France stopped all traffic both by ferry and through the Channel Tunnel. Eurostar trains do not run from London to Paris, Brussels, Lille and Amsterdam. The ferry terminal at Dover is closed because France has closed the border. The ban is valid for different periods. Holland and Germany announced the suspension of communication until at least the end of the year. The Italian Minister of Health has signed an executive order requiring everyone who has been in the UK for the past two weeks to deploy at the border. The flight ban is in effect from Sunday to January 6th. France canceled the entire message for 48 hours.
Ireland has abandoned ferry services as the country's food and goods supply comes from the UK. Flights from England have also been canceled.
An emergency meeting of the heads of government of the European Union will take place today. One question on the agenda is how to coordinate efforts and prevent the spread of a new type of virus on the continent. The French Minister of Health said that there is a high probability that the mutated virus is walking in France, although it has not yet been detected. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also convening today a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, which meets only in case of terrorist attacks or natural disasters.
What is known about the mutated virus
All viruses mutate constantly, so the emergence of a new subspecies of coronavirus is not surprising. Dr. Moog Civic, a member of the UK government's viral advisory council, said there are 4,000 known mutations in the coronavirus that causes covid to date, with only a dozen of these mutations of more or less significant interest to scientists and governments. Chris Whitty, England's chief health inspector, said a new variant of the coronavirus was discovered to increase infection rates by 70% and could raise the R value by 0.4 points. The data that doctors have to date indicate that the mutation does not increase mortality and does not affect the course of the disease.
However, the data are preliminary, and the estimates are based on mathematical models, so you need to treat them carefully, said Dr. Civik: “It all depends on the quantity and quality of information used for calculations, but in this case, genetic data was used. At the moment, we do not know exactly how accurately the infection will increase. We were only able to establish causal relationships. " Stuart Neal, professor of virology at King College, University of London, confirmed that the data analyzed indicate a high prevalence of the virus, but laboratory tests are not yet available.
This variant of the virus was detected in 10-15% of cases a few weeks ago, but last week the number of infected in London increased by 60% at once.
Scientists are most worried about mutations in the virus spike protein, the part of it that is responsible for the virus penetrating through infiltrated cells in the lungs, nasal and oral cavities, says Professor Neal. The mutation of the protein will allow it to better bind to the ACE2 receptor. On the one hand, this protein is large, and the created vaccines should cause the production of antibodies in the body. On the other hand, Neil says, mutations can interfere with the action of the vaccine. “This needs to be watched carefully”, - the professor said.
Dr. Civic notes that doctors do not know how many factors contributed to such a rapid increase in the incidence. The mutation accelerated the spread of the virus, but high infection rates were also observed in areas where strict quarantine was introduced.
“In such situations, the question of social inequality arises again. Lockdowns have not helped people who cannot work from home", - said the doctor.
Professor Andrew Howard of University College London commented: “London and the South East are well ahead of the country in terms of incidence, but not too long ago, the numbers were quite low. The number of the infected jumped up within one or two weeks. I'm afraid we can't do without strict quarantine for the whole country". To avoid high mortality, it is better to start quarantine as early as possible, the professor added.
Scientists say that maybe there is not enough data yet, but they are enough to understand that this variant of the virus has great potential to increase the pandemic. And even if the death rates under this option do not change, due to the rapid spread, this will lead to a significant increase in deaths.