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US U.S. to escalate surveillance, study of coronavirus variants

05:16  25 january  2021
05:16  25 january  2021 Source:   reuters.com

CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant to become dominant in U.S.

  CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant to become dominant in U.S. Agency data predicts U.K. variant will spread rapidly, intensifying urgency of vaccinations In every scenario explored by the CDC, the U.K. strain, which British researchers estimate is roughly 50 percent more transmissible than the more common coronavirus strain, will account for a majority of cases in the United States by some point in March.

Race against variants . Vaccination has become ever more critical with the recent emergence of several coronavirus variants believed to be more “We are now scaling up both our surveillance of these and our study of these,” Walensky said, adding that the CDC was collaborating with the

Other times, new variants emerge and persist. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally The virus that causes COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus , a large family of viruses. Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their

By Susan Cornwell and Steve Gorman

a person posing for the camera: FILE PHOTO: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announces members of his health team in Wilmington, Delaware © Reuters/KEVIN LAMARQUE FILE PHOTO: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announces members of his health team in Wilmington, Delaware

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is stepping up its efforts to track coronavirus mutations to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines and treatments stay ahead of new variants of the disease until collective immunity is achieved, the CDC chief said on Sunday.

a woman wearing a blue shirt: FILE PHOTO: Coronavirus vaccination site at NYCHA housing complex in Brooklyn © Reuters/POOL FILE PHOTO: Coronavirus vaccination site at NYCHA housing complex in Brooklyn

Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke about implications posed by the rapidly evolving virus during a Fox News Sunday interview as the number of Americans known to have been infected neared 25 million, with more than 417,000 dead, just over a year after the first U.S. case of COVID-19 was documented.

2 US COVID variants have been identified. What does that mean for vaccines?

  2 US COVID variants have been identified. What does that mean for vaccines? Even more variants may be identified in the coming weeks, experts said. On Wednesday, researchers from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center announced two distinct, newly identified variants. The next day, researchers at Southern Illinois University said they found a variant that may have emerged months ago and quickly spread across the country. The variant is likely the same or similar to one of the variants identified by the Ohio researchers.

In South Korea, government agencies are harnessing surveillance -camera footage, smartphone location data and credit card purchase records to help trace the recent movements of coronavirus patients and establish virus transmission chains.

A few case studies hint at this kind of rapid evolution for chronically ill SARS-CoV-2 patients. Both Pfizer and Moderna are checking if the variants can escape the antibodies generated by their respective vaccines, but pioneering scientists behind these drugs believe this scenario to be unlikely.

Walensky, who took over as CDC director last Wednesday, the day President Joe Biden was sworn in, also said the greatest immediate culprit for sluggish vaccine distribution is a supply crunch worsened by inventory confusion inherited from the Trump administration.

"The fact that we don't know today, five days into this administration, and weeks into planning, how much vaccine we have just gives you a sense of the challenges we've been left with," she told Fox News Sunday.

Biden's transition team was largely excluded from the government's vaccine rollout deliberations for weeks after his election as then-President Donald Trump refused to concede defeat and allow the incoming administration access to information needed to prepare to govern.

These coronavirus variants are keeping scientists awake at night

  These coronavirus variants are keeping scientists awake at night At least four new variants of the coronavirus are keeping scientists awake at night. © WILLIAM EDWARDS/AFP/Getty Images A sign alerts customers that the "French Borders are Closed" at the entrance to the Port of Dover in Kent, south east England on December 21, 2020, as a string of countries banned travellers all but unaccompanied freight arriving from the UK, due to the rapid spread of a more-infectious new coronavirus strain.

A new variant of coronavirus has been found which is growing faster in some parts of England, MPs have been told. "The surveillance and research must continue and we must take the necessary steps to stay ahead "Therefore, it is important that we study any genetic changes as they occur, to

Study : Ireland saw highest global coronavirus infection rate. Iceland began testing its population in early February, weeks before its first coronavirus -related death, Stefánsson said, adding that health officials have aggressively contact-traced and quarantined confirmed and suspected Covid-19 cases.

Ron Klain, Biden's chief of staff, said in a separate interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," that a plan for distributing the vaccine, particularly beyond nursing homes and hospitals, "did not really exist when we came into the White House."

Walensky said she was confident the government would soon resolve supply questions, and go on to dramatically expand vaccine production and distribution by late March.

Uncertainty over immediate supplies, however, will hinder efforts at the state and local levels to plan ahead for how many vaccination sites, personnel and appointments to set up in the meantime, exacerbating shortages in the short term, she said.

RACE AGAINST VARIANTS

Vaccination has become ever more critical with the recent emergence of several coronavirus variants believed to be more transmissible, and in the case of one strain first detected in Britain, possibly more lethal.

EU Vaccine Export Limits; Colombia Minister Dies: Virus Update

  EU Vaccine Export Limits; Colombia Minister Dies: Virus Update Germany urged the European Union to limit vaccine exports as a standoff with AstraZeneca Plc over delivery delays worsened. Chancellor Angela Merkel told colleagues the risks from faster-spreading variants means the country is “sitting on a powder keg,” according to Bild newspaper. Ireland is set to extend its lockdown even amid signs the outbreak there is easing, and the U.K. government is expected to announce plans for quarantining travelers. New Zealand is likely to keep its borders closed to the world through most of 2021.Thailand found a record number of cases in a migrant labor cluster near Bangkok.

Adding to the crisis, the likely more contagious variant of the virus has now been identified in multiple states, with the largest clusters in Florida and California. Vaccine availability still offers some hope. More than nine million patients have received their first dose

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the respiratory illness responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are now scaling up both our surveillance of these and our study of these," Walensky said, adding that the CDC was collaborating with the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and even the Pentagon.

The object, she said, is to monitor "the impact of these variants on vaccines, as well as on our therapeutics," as the virus continues to mutate while it spreads.

Until vaccines can provide "herd" immunity in the population, mask-wearing and social distancing remain vital to "decrease the amount of virus that is circulating, and therefore, decrease the amount of variants that are out there," Walensky said.

Although British officials on Friday warned that the so-called UK variant of the coronavirus, already detected in at least 20 U.S. states, was associated with a higher level of mortality, scientists have said existing vaccines still appeared to be effective against it.

They worry, however, that a more contagious South African variant may reduce the efficacy of current vaccines and shows resistance to three antibody therapeutics developed for treating COVID-19 patients. Similarities between the South African variant and another identified in Brazil suggest the Brazilian variety may likewise resist antibody treatment.

Covid-19 stats are dipping, as variants lurk and vaccines lag

  Covid-19 stats are dipping, as variants lurk and vaccines lag Make no mistake: The United States still is at one of its worst spots of the coronavirus pandemic. Daily deaths are near a peak, and other daily stats still are stunningly high compared to where they'd been before a late 2020 surge. © Eddie Seal/Bloomberg/Getty Images A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccination at a drive-thru clinic at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown, Texas, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Hundreds of thousands of Texans will likely get their first doses of the vaccine starting the week of January 25.

"We're in a race against these variants," said Vivek Murthy, nominated by Biden to become the next U.S. surgeon general, on ABC's "This Week" program on Sunday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease specialist, said in late December he was optimistic the United States could achieve enough collective immunity to COVID to regain "some semblance of normality" by the fall of 2021.

But Murthy said getting to herd immunity before a new school year begins in September was "an ambitious goal."

Nevertheless, Murthy suggested the government may exceed Biden's objective of administering 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of his presidency, telling ABC News, "that's a floor; it's not a ceiling."

Fauci, appearing separately on CBS News' "Face the Nation," said the 100-million-shot goal encompasses people who may have received both injections of the two-dose vaccines and those who have only gotten the first jab.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell in Washington and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Sarah Lynch and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Writing by Steve Gorman; editing by Diane Craft)

Coronavirus updates: As variants spread, countries pursue new round of travel restrictions .
The United States, Britain and New Zealand are moving to impose stricter border measures as highly infectious coronavirus variants continue to spread. President Biden confirmed Monday that he would extend a ban on travelers from Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and 26 other European countries. Visitors from South Africa will be banned from entering the United States starting Saturday.

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