Victory in Europe day on 8th May 1945 in 1945 saw Britain and its Allies formally accept Nazi Germanys unconditional surrender, marking the end of the second world war. Coronavirus lockdown means there were no large-scale parades or street parties today 8th May 2020. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall led a National two-minute silence at 11.00 BST.
As I mentioned at the very start of this blog, we are now engaged in what could be described as a quasi third world war – a war against the invisible enemy that is coronavirus which has no respect for National boundaries or people, whether they are on the frontline closest to the area of “conflict”, or innocent civilians – ie NHS healthcare doctors and nurses working at the interface of treating covid-19 patients.
A recent analysis of information from UK and US healthcare workers showed that they had nearly a 12 x times higher risk of testing positive for covid-19 compared with individuals in the general community. Healthcare workers without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) face an even higher risk. They have a high probability of contracting covid-19 , bringing the infection home to their families, and spread within their communities. Click link for full article. Healthcare workers should not be sent into “battle” without adequate PPE, particularly now that such a high level of risk has been established.
Continuing the military analogy, good intelligence is vital in a war situation, and this the same in the war against coronavirus. The analysis of the many virus mutations will provide important information on how the pandemic unfolded, and how an effective vaccine can be developed.
A genetic study of samples from more than 7,500 infected people has identified hundreds of mutations to the Covid-19 causing virus, which scientists say show how it is adapting to its human hosts as it spreads. The work suggests that the virus spread rapidly after it emerged in China, sometime between October and December last year, and that it was being transmitted extensively around the world early on in the epidemic – possibly entering Europe weeks or even months before the first cases were detected.
In many countries, including the UK, the variety of virus mutations sampled was almost as great as the variety seen across the whole world. This suggests the virus entered the UK lots of times independently, rather than via any one “patient zero” case that seeded the national epidemic.
The fact the virus has mutated is not in itself sinister, according to Prof Francois Balloux, who co-led the work. “All viruses naturally mutate,” he said. “Mutations in themselves are not a bad thing and there is nothing to suggest Sars-CoV-2 is mutating faster or slower than expected. So far we cannot say whether [it] is becoming more or less lethal and contagious.”
Identifying which sections of the virus genome are mutating most rapidly is important for vaccine development – if a vaccine candidate targets a region of the virus that later changes, it is less likely to be effective.
Hopefully, this will weaken the widely-believed conspiracy theory that coronavirus was accidentally released from a virology laboratory in Wuhan, China in late December 2019. Click link for full article.