Covid-19: India Fights New Virus Variant

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Covid-19: India Fights New Virus Variant” – below is their description.

    Viruses mutate all the time, including the coronavirus that has caused the global Covid-19 pandemic.

    Although most of the changes are innocuous, several mutants have sparked alarm, and three variants that emerged in the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil have caused particular concern as they spread worldwide. Studies suggest they are more contagious, and some evidence points to one of them being more deadly and another driving reinfections.

    Vaccine developers are working on new versions after early data from South Africa indicated AstraZeneca Plc’s inoculation was less effective against the variant circulating there.

    During replication, a virus often undergoes genetic mutations that may create what are called variants. Some mutations weaken the virus; others may yield some advantage that enables the variant to proliferate. Variants with distinctly different physical characteristics may be co-termed a strain. A variant that deviates significantly from its viral ancestors may be identified as a new lineage or branch on the evolutionary tree. In general discourse, however, the terms are often used interchangeably.

    The World Health Organization uses the term “variants of concern” to signify strains that pose additional risks to public health, and “emerging variants of interest” for those that warrant close monitoring because of their potential risk. These have been assigned names or codes by the various research groups and public health agencies investigating them. So far, the WHO has identified three variants of concern and three variants of interest.

    The variant that emerged in England in September 2020, B.1.1.7, contributed to a surge in cases that sent the U.K. back into lockdown in January. Other countries followed, particularly in Europe. It became the dominant strain in the U.S. in early April.

    In southern Africa, hospitals faced pressure from a resurgence driven by another variant, 501Y.V2.

    Brazilian researchers, meanwhile, have warned that a so-called P.1 variant spotted in Manaus, Amazonas state, in December 2020 may have driven a surge in cases that’s strained the health system and led to oxygen shortages.

    The WHO said in mid-April it is reviewing whether to add a strain designated B.1.617, first recorded in India in October, to its variant of interest list, as India has done. This one is reported to harbor two key mutations that are known to reduce — but not eliminate — the ability of antibodies generated by either a previous infection or vaccination to fight it.

    Rapidly, aided initially by year-end holidays traditionally associated with family and social gatherings. As of April 13, imported cases or community transmission of the B.1.1.7 variant from the U.K. had been reported in 132 countries, according to the World Health Organization. It also had become the most common strain in the U.S. As of April 13, scientists have found the 501Y.V2 variant that first appeared in South Africa in August 2020 in 82 countries, while 52 countries are reported to have detected the P.1 variant first seen in Brazil. Insufficient surveillance in most countries, including the U.S., has obscured the recognition of variants circulating in many places.

    Broadly, they pose concerns of varying degrees. These relate to their transmissibility, or propensity to spread the severity of illness they cause, neutralization capacity, or the likelihood they will infect people who have recovered from a previous bout of Covid-19, and potential impact on vaccination through their ability to evade the protection that immunizations are designed to generate.

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    In This Story: AstraZeneca

    AstraZeneca plc/AB (LON: AZN) is a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company with its headquarters in Cambridge, United Kingdom and Södertälje, Sweden. Its R&D is concentrated in Cambridge in United Kingdom, Södertälje in Sweden, and Maryland and Toronto in North America.

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  • In This Story: Brazil

    Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America.

    Its capital is Brasília, and its most populous city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states and the Federal District. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas, as well as the most populous Roman Catholic-majority country.

    Its Amazon basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. Brazil is classified as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank and a newly industrialized country.

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  • In This Story: COVID-19

    Covid-19 is the official WHO name given to the novel coronavirus which broke out in late 2019 and began to spread in the early months of 2020.

    Symptoms of coronavirus

    The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

    • a persistent new cough (non productive, dry)
    • a high temperature (e.g. head feels warm to the touch)
    • shortness of breath (if this is abnormal for the individual, or increased)

    Latest News about Covid-19

    Below are stories from around the globe related to the 2020 outbreak of novel Coronavirus – since the WHO gave the Covid-19 naming. Most recent items are posted nearest the top.

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  • In This Story: India

    India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the second-most populous country, the seventh-largest country by land area, and the most populous democracy in the world. New Delhi is the capital.

    It has an exceptionally diverse population, with Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and other religions speaking over 21 recognised languages.

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  • In This Story: Lockdown

    During the 2020 Covid-19 epidemic, lockdown has come to mean the practice of attempting to control transmission of the virus by means of restricting people’s movement and activities on a broad scale, usually on a national or state-wide basis.

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  • In This Story: South Africa

    South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent, marked by several distinct ecosystems. Inland safari destination Kruger National Park is populated by big game. The Western Cape offers beaches, lush winelands around Stellenbosch and Paarl, craggy cliffs at the Cape of Good Hope, forest and lagoons along the Garden Route, and the city of Cape Town, beneath flat-topped Table Mountain.

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  • In This Story: World Health Organization

    The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. The WHO Constitution, which establishes the agency’s governing structure and principles, states its main objective as “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”

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