New UK COVID-19 strand spreads widely


Jessica Conk, Staff

As of January 2021, there have been two known cases of the U.K. strain of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. Health departments are working with other cities in Pennsylvania to create a plan that monitors, identifies and tracks citizens exposed to the new strain. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The U.K. variant may have an increased risk of causing death. The U.K. variant is known to spread faster and more easily than others.” The CDC works with different public health agencies to monitor the spread of the U.K. strain, but there are still parts of the new variants that are leaving scientists unsure. The CDC stated, “Scientists are working to learn more about these variants, and more studies are needed to understand; How widely these new variants have spread, How the disease caused by these new variants differs from the disease caused by other variants that are currently circulating and how these variants may affect existing therapies, vaccines, and tests.” The CDC continues to try and encourage wearing a mask, maintaining six feet of distance and avoiding large gatherings. They are unsure whether or not the same measures will protect people from the new U.K. variant. 

U.S. News & World Report
Officials go door-to-door in the UK to test for the new COVID-19 variant.

Communities in London have begun testing house-by-house for the new variants of COVID-19. According to AP News, “Public health officials are concerned about the variant first identified in South Africa because it contains a mutation of the virus’ characteristic spike protein that existing vaccines target. The mutation may mean the vaccines offer less protection against the variant.”  Public Health officials in England have created a door-to-door strategy of testing and insist that people remain home unless absolutely necessary. Health care officials are handing out home testing kits and setting up many testing sights as a way of reaching all members of the communities. The U.K. aims to shut down their borders and require quarantining for 14 days for everyone that enters their country. A professor from University College London, Andrew Hayward, stated in an AP News article, “You can think about completely shutting the borders or having quarantine, [but] what’s the endgame in that? Is that something that you’re going to do forever, because it looks like these strains may continue to arise in the long term? So we need some sort of sustainable strategy, and I think that’s very difficult for politicians to think about that.” While it’s unknown whether or not the U.K. variant is more infectious, scientists and health care officials suggest wearing your mask, social distancing and getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available to you. Cases are spreading to individuals who have never left the country or had contact with anyone who traveled to London. The House of Commons was told by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that, “Our mission must be to stop its spread altogether and break chains of transmission.”

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