Spanish – Around 44.1 million people in the UK are suffering from the tightening of quarantine due to the appearance of the new strain of the coronavirus. That is, they will welcome the new year without the possibility of meeting or going to “non-essential” stores.
The European nation is trying to control the rapid spread of the new variant of the virus, also detected in other nations, which worries governments about its rapid spread.
The measure that intensifies the lockdown was announced on December 19 by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. Both London and the Southeast and East of England went to the fourth level of risk by COVID-19, which is equivalent to a “serious” condition, reported France 24.
However, in a more recent announcement, the government added Liverpool, Birmingham, Greater Manchester, and the Northeast to reach 78% of the territory.
The health care system is also under pressure in the face of a rising tide of cases, which has caused 981 deaths in just 24 hours, according to authorities, a Reuters article reported.
The situation in the United Kingdom has raised global concern, as it was one of the first places where the new coronavirus mutation was detected. Countries around the world canceled flights from that nation, although cases began to appear beyond the restrictions, as was the case in the United States, where the first case was already registered.
Furthermore, other strains have been detected in Nigeria and South Africa. The effectiveness of the approved vaccines remains to be seen.
Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine approved
The total number of infected people is being monitored by the government and British experts. You only have to look at the official statistics to notice the difference.
On December 1, the number of new daily cases was 13,429, but on December 28, it reached 53,135. However, the anxiety seems to be partially appeased by the approval of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.
Many hope that the AstraZeneca vaccine and the one by Pfizer and BioNTech will curb this new wave of infections. Therefore, the government ordered 100 million doses from AstraZeneca following a recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, they should be able to vaccinate “enough vulnerable people by spring,” which could mark an “exit route” from the pandemic.
The country had already approved the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech. It began deploying it in early December, becoming the first country to initiate vaccination.
The main difference between both vaccines is effectiveness. Oxford and AstraZeneca only achieved 70% effectiveness according to data collected by Bloomberg, while Pfizer and BioNTech reached 95%.
But Oxford and AstraZeneca have a point in favor. Their two doses require normal refrigeration, between two and eight degrees centigrade. On the other hand, the doses of Pfizer and BioNTech need to be conserved to -70 degrees. This difference is crucial for transportation and storage.
By December 24, the country had already administered more than 625,000 vaccines in this race to immunize its population.
The effectiveness remains to be seen
Governments around the world have begun to purchase doses from different laboratories, from Asia to Latin America, and shipments are arriving, some in smaller quantities than others, but with projections to vaccinate the most vulnerable sectors in the first months of 2021.
The response that each vaccine may have to new strains is “we’ll see.” Laboratories such as BioNTech affirm that their vaccine can probably combat the mutations. However, more analysis must be done to be completely sure.
Ugur Sahin, the co-founder of the laboratory, said that if a new vaccine is needed, it will be ready in “six weeks.”
While the UK is testing the full effectiveness of the vaccines, it has also opted to delay the return to school after the Christmas vacations.
“We must always act swiftly when circumstances change. The evidence about the new variant of COVID-19 and the increasing infection rates have required immediate adjustments to our plans for the new term,” said British Education Minister Gavin Williamson.