Dr Ashish K Jha (pictured), Dean of Brown University School of Public Health, has issued warning about new ‘super-covid’ variants
A senior public health expert said the new “ super-covid ” variants could make the coronavirus pandemic in the United States up to five times deadlier.
The new strain, known as B.1.1.7 – which was first detected in the UK – has now infected at least 37 people in seven states and at least 30 countries.
Meanwhile, a close cousin has been found in South Africa, the UK and at least seven other countries – but not yet in the US.
It is feared that it is up to 70% more transmissible and that it spreads more easily among children.
Dr Ashish K Jha, Dean of Brown University School of Public Health, says that with the new variant being “ significantly more contagious ” there could be as many as 10 million new infections in the United States and up to 150,000 deaths by the end of February.
For this reason, he argues that the United States should also delay the administration of the second doses of the coronavirus vaccine and instead administer as many Americans as possible.
In a press release, Jha wrote that a significant increase in COVID-19 infection rates will create a much more deadly pandemic despite the new variants not making patients sicker.
He refers to an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who hypothetically compared a strain 50% more contagious to a strain 50% more lethal in a Twitter feed.
The B.1.1.7 strain first detected in the UK has now infected at least 37 people in seven states (above), while the strain found in South Africa has yet to reach the US. United.
Jha warns the pandemic could become up to “five times deadlier” as the new variants infect more people faster and overwhelm hospitals. Pictured: Walter Smith, a respiratory therapist, gives oxygen to a COVID-19 patient before intubating him in intensive care at Uniontown Hospital, in Uniontown, Pa. On December 16
He recommends that officials delay giving the second doses of the coronavirus vaccine so that as many people as possible get at least one dose. Pictured: A bottle of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on a table before it is used in Topeka, Kansas on December 30
The epidemiologist found that in a city of 10,000 infections, the 50% more deadly strain would cause around 193 new deaths after a month of spread.
However, the 50% more transmissible variant would result in 978 new deaths after one month, which equates to a five-fold increase.
“Because a lower death rate from a very large number of cases produces a lot more deaths than a higher death rate but a lower number of cases,” Jha said in the press release.
The new strain is estimated to represent approximately [one percent] of all infections right now, but because of its increased contagiousness, the best estimates are that it will be a majority of all new infections by March.
Jha says aggressive and urgent action is needed to limit the spread of the new strain, as several health systems are experiencing a severe shortage of beds and resources.
“ This new, more infectious variant will alter the underlying dynamics of the pandemic, with an exponential growth in infections making the virus much harder to contain and overloading our stressed health system.
“The US healthcare system is already staggering under the burden of the pandemic caused by the current (old) strain,” he wrote.
Some suggestions include tightening restrictions on indoor gatherings and rolling out a large number of rapid tests in schools, offices and homes.
“ We should expect, without further action, that as the new strain takes hold, we will see an additional 10 million infections in the United States by the end of February and during that time, we could easily see 100,000 to 150,000 more deaths, ‘he wrote.
But, perhaps more importantly, Jha says the Trump administration needs to step up nationwide vaccination efforts.
The current government policy is to withhold about half of the available supply to ensure people get a second dose.
However, Jha says officials need to prioritize ensuring that as many Americans as possible receive at least one dose – especially the elderly – and that second doses can be given when more vaccines come off the chain. of production.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that vaccines do not work against the newer variants, and a single vaccine has been found to be at least 50 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 infection.
The UK has already opted for this, delaying the second doses of the Pfizer and Oxford University / AstraZeneca jabs so that a larger group of people can receive their first injections.
Between fewer vaccines approved by the then hoped-for New Year, skyrocketing infection rates and the threat of new variants, Jha calls for immediate action.
“It is essential to get ahead of this variant because it is necessary in the United States,” he wrote.
“If we act aggressively now, we can avoid the worst-case scenario of more suffering, more deaths and more economic damage that awaits us in the months to come.