2020 is still very much upon us.
Parts of Europe were in full panic mode Monday morning as public health officials there reported what seemed to be the outbreak of a new mutant strain of Covid-19 that is described as being exponentially more contagious than the one that’s already caused a global pandemic.
The new strain’s apparent epicenter is in the United Kingdom, from where Britons were scrambling to leave major cities like London in an effort to escape looming lockdowns. But the mutation of the coronavirus has already been reported well outside of London, including in the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Iceland and even Australia.
Public health experts have traced those cases back to the U.K., where Covid cases have been surging in recent weeks. They said it’s not out of the ordinary for a virus to mutate. However, this particular version of Covid is extraordinary because of its higher levels of contagion.
“While it is known and expected that viruses constantly change through mutation leading to the emergence of new variants, preliminary analysis in the UK suggests that this variant is significantly more transmissible than previously circulating variants, with an estimated potential to increase the reproductive number (R) by 0.4 or greater with an estimated increased transmissibility of up to 70%,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in a news update Sunday. They referred to the Covid mutation as “a SARS-CoV-2 variant.”
A growing number of countries have suspended flights to and from the U.K. They include Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Iran, Colombia and Morocco. Saudi Arabia closed its borders and suspended all flights to and from everywhere.
Notably missing from that list of nations is the United States.
“Today that variant is getting on a plane and landing at JFK,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday in reference to New York City’s biggest airport during a press briefing. “How many times in life do you have to make the same mistake before you learn?”
Cuomo said Monday he believes “it’s already” in the U.S.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) on new COVID variant found in the UK: “I believe, intuitively, it’s already here.” pic.twitter.com/UIMHlnr6fo
— The Recount (@therecount) December 21, 2020
There was no immediate announcement from the U.S. Department of State aside from a standing and general Covid-19 travel advisory against international travel.
The Covid mutation comes just days after coronavirus vaccines started being administered across the world.
As a result, the stock market plunged.
President-elect Joe Biden was scheduled to be given the Covid vaccine live on TV as health workers and national leaders alike attempt to show unity in an effort to compel Americans to also get vaccinated.
While polling shows that more Black people are willing to be vaccinated, there is still a disproportionate number who are not. Black people remain the worst hit by the pandemic; not just health-wise but also economically and socially.