London And Surrounding Areas Restarting Lockdowns Due To Coronavirus Mutating

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And parts of essex and hot fanfare are hours away from returning to the highest level of covid nineteen restrictions following an alarming spike of cases in the capital pubs restaurants and other indoor entertainment. Venues will close once more. The latest surge has been ascribed to a new variant of the corona virus which appears to be growing more rapidly than previously for the moment however the uk's government says it has no plans to review the curious christmas truce. It appears to think it has negotiated with the virus. While i'm joined with more on this boy monocle. Twenty four health and science correspondent dr. Chris smith also a virologist at cambridge university chris. This the idea that there's a new strain of covid nineteen sounds like the very definition of the absolute last thing. We want to hear at this point. How grim news is this to be quite honest with you. I'm not alarmed. I'm not surprised. And i'm actually quite reassured and explain all those things ovar mutate because they're based on the same genetic code is running in pretty much will life on earth then the same mechanisms that lead to life evolving and changing apply viruses. And so as they go through their hosts they would evolve and change and corona virus is no exception. That's exactly what's happened to you. Therefore we would anticipate that we would see different strains and different emerging and indeed. This is not the first time it has happened. We've seen happened early. On in the pandemic in china we've seen it happen and disclosed various different forms of the viruses spread across the world and in europe they documented some of the same changes are now being seen in this new variant in the south east of england. So this is not altogether new in terms of concept and is not altogether new in terms of variant. This being disclosed. We're reassured by matt. Hancock saying yesterday house commons the the. Don't think although they are confirming that this will lead to the virus sidestepping the effects of a vaccine. We don't think it makes people who catch it for ill. It just may be transmits a bit better. Although that speculation on airpods that they're they're saying it might be linked to an increasing cases in the southeast england in terms of course load but don't know for sure if we're going to try to be exceptionally optimistic about this. Is there any possibility that the reason the viruses having to mutate to survive is there an indication that perhaps that means we've got it on the run will certainly when you apply pressure to a virus and by pressure. I mean for instance putting a vaccine into a population so you create an immune barrier or you put in place public health measures. You are forcing the virus to change to optimize to those new conditions. Because that's why things evolve in the first place. They're responding to selective pressure from their environment. And we know we do this to the flu. We know this happens with hiv. When we give people hiv drugs for example then the virus that grows in them is the only one that can bypass the blockade of drug. And that's why we use multiple drugs at wants to minimize the chance. The happening so the concept is common. Well understood so yes. It is. Theoretical possibility that by applying pressure to the virus. We are forcing it to become more infectious so that despite robbing it of opportunities to transmit it can still continue to transmit given the does appear to have become more infectious in the capital. However does it make the proposed relaxation of restrictions around christmas. Look even more. Ill advised than they might have. Well we don't know it has become more infectious in the capital. We know we've got more cases same in the east and southeast of england essex positive of cheer kent. They've seen big increases in numbers of the trend is in an upward direction. Which is why caution. Reproach has been taken in the uk by moving. Probably the best part of eleven million people who live in those territories into a so-called tier three situation to apply more pressure to the virus. The idea i think is this is anticipating the trend is going upwards where we are today is not where we're going to be tomorrow and so by bearing down on ahead of christmas when there's going to be this loosening effect where we got five days of reveling and Enhanced mixing the there are going to be more cases so if we start molo point and already have more control at the virus to start with them. We're going to end up finishing the low point than we otherwise would is or anything that the rest of the world should have learned from the united states. Experience we've thanksgiving because that was sort of a test run of what happens if all of a sudden millions of people travel by aircraft and by train and spend at least today in close quarters with households other than their own well. This is exactly what happened with chinese new year and when millions of people were mobilized to crush china to get together for the chinese new year this probably spawned even more cases because people traveled internationally for that event to so yes. History is full of examples of peop- of of Repeating itself and this is no exception. We are anticipating that. The mixing that goes on over christmas will lead to more cases. The question is how many more cases and how are we going to cope with them. So is there a good reason at least scientifically good reason. Why not just this government. But any government wouldn't just say to its people look seriously. Christmas is basically cancelled We are just going to have to suck this up for a few more months. We do have a vaccine to look forward to. We do have a restoration of normality to look forward to. We might maybe think about throwing in an extra couple of bank holidays around. June but christmas is basically not going to happen. Will the president of the royal college of emergency medicine was asked this very question on bbc. Radio four's pm program. Yesterday an her answer was. Are you asking me. This is a doctor or as you asking me this as human and actually you get a very different also because the doctor slash the infection control person is going to say which just council everything we should imprison. Everybody break the chain of transmission bear down on the virus but the human element of this is people need something to look forward to. Morale is incredibly important. And if you rob people away of the one thing. They've looked forward to in. What is the end of a very dismal year than this will probably translate into poor compliance in the long term. it will probably therefore translate into in the long-term more cases more headaches more problems and ultimately more casualties from are so. I think the government have of compromise. Here the trying to go for a controlled christmas. Where if you allow people some flexibility you know that most people will be responsible. You hope that they are. You're willing to tolerate some degree of of letting your hair down because you know that in a noncompliant christmas where you'd said don't do this and if on breaks the rules anyway he's probably going to be a higher price to pay in the long term. I think that's really the equation that they've done. Well let's look finally at the progress of that vaccine which is now being rolled out in united kingdom and again it's a question of government messaging. Does it strike you. As a missed opportunity that there is a website with a rolling hourly update of how many people have now been vaccinated. Well the numbers are not that high yet You see numbers like yesterday. They did three hundred people or four hundred people in this hospital and that hospital. And when you see that there's this peak of mount everest which is sixty eight million people in the uk high eight billion people on earth. Hide one what. You wanna do When you knock a few hundred off that is not much. And so. I think maybe that's coming may be there. There is that opportunity in the future but for now. It probably wouldn't be a big demonstrable difference

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