The day of this Monday has been bittersweet in the United Kingdom. Just hours after the country celebrated the start of immunization with its national stamp vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the entry into force of a new lock down strict like the first wave, last March.
Thus, despite the government’s intention to vaccinate at a rate of two million people per week, the joy was eclipsed by the announcement at a press conference of the new restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus, which according to the authorities finds “out of control.” The Labor party had expressly asked the premier on Sunday to order a third confinement of the entire population, after the barrier of 50,000 daily positive cases was exceeded for the sixth day in a row and after learning that hospitals are so saturated that there are Covid-19 patients who are being treated in ambulances.
UK Chief Medical Officers and England’s NHS Medical Director stated in a statement that ‘there is a risk that the NHS will be overwhelmed in several areas over the next 21 days’ as’ currently there are very high rates of community transmission, with a substantial number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals and in intensive care, ‘and they added that “Cases are increasing almost everywhere in the country, largely driven by the new, more transmissible variant” of the virus.
The measures announced by Johnson, similar to the end of March, took effect at midnight yesterday and deputies are expected to vote on their approval tomorrow Wednesday. Thus, in addition to the fact that all commerce, restaurants, hotels and entertainment will be closed, people will be asked to work from home. Families will not be able to leave their homes except for exceptional reasons, such as exercising or receiving medical attention and of course they will not be able to mix with other people.
” Primary schools, secondary schools and universities across England will move to virtual learning” starting today, the premier announced, except for the sons and daughters of key workers and vulnerable minors. Johnson, who was happy because the “rate of vaccination is accelerating”, regretted that the government has to take these measures but justified his decision in scientific data. “More than ever, we must work together and follow the rules,” said Johnson, who assured that Wales and Northern Ireland would also take tougher measures to stop the outbreak.
Also, the Chief Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, issued the order to stay home yesterday, arguing that the new strain of the virus, more contagious, is causing an unstoppable increase in cases. Sturgeon said she is “more concerned about the situation we face now than at any time since March last year,” and that the new strain of coronavirus accounts for half of all new cases. In addition, he warned that the “strong trend” in the increase in infections threatens to put “significant pressure” on hospital services.
As if the outlook wasn’t bleak enough, Health Minister Matt Hancock said he felt “Incredibly concerned” about the new mutation believed to have originated in South Africa and is now circulating in the UK as well, and against which current vaccines may not be effective.
In this line, John Bell, professor of medicine at Oxford, also expressed himself in a radio program, who explained that the changes in this strain are “Quite substantial changes in structure”“I am very concerned about the South African strain,” he said, because “the mutations associated with it involve quite substantial changes in the structure of the protein,” changes that affect the way the virus binds to human cells, which in turn, it could affect the effectiveness of vaccines that are already being administered to the population. ‘ The real question is whether the vaccines are enough to neutralize the virus. Or, in the presence of the mutations, will they be disabled? He wondered. Bell further warned that “we will see many variants” of the virus, but that the good news is that existing vaccines could adjust to these changes.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism