MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Erie Times E-Edition Article-Virus variants likely behind latest surge across state

Posted by M. C. on April 10, 2021

The state is refusing to release data. Is it because she hasn’t been programmed on what to say or just doesn’t know? One thing I think I know-that stuff you allowed to be pumped in your arm is no good (having to anti-social distance and wear masks after “vaccination” is a clue). Boxing used to go 15 rounds. How many will you go?

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=2af98184c

Jo Ciavaglia Pocono Record | USA TODAY NETWORK

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is refusing to release data about where emerging and more contagious COVID-19 infections are occurring, including one that medical experts are attributing to the recent surge in new cases.

Department spokeswoman Maggi Burton acknowledged COVID-19 cases involving variants of the virus are increasing in the state, but she referred questions about counties in which the variants are circulating to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pennsylvania is currently sending biweekly positive COVID samples to the CDC for the complex and time-consuming genome sequencing, a tool that provides the genetic code of a virus and allows scientists to detect mutations.

Several commercial and hospital labs have also started sequencing positive specimens and they have identified most of the variants in the state so far, Burton said. She added the department is working to build the infrastructure to do sequencing in-house.

See VARIANTS, Page 4A

Continued from Page 1A

As of Thursday, the CDC has detected the so-called U.K. variant in 672 Pennsylvania COVID-19 cases, more than triple the number as of March 30. Six cases of the South African variant and one case of the Brazil variant have also been detected in the state as of Thursday.

On Thursday, the CDC declared the more contagious and potentially deadly U.K. variant has become the dominant strain in the United States, but added that the three FDA-approved vaccines offer some protection against the strain.

Statewide, COVID cases have jumped 75% since mid-March, with new cases jumping from an average of 2,500 daily to more than 4,600. The U.K. variant is suspected to be primarily behind the recent jump.

The percentage of positive COVID tests in Pennsylvania has also spiked dramatically in the last three weeks, from 5.7% to 9.4% on April 1, suggesting that community spread is increasing.

Currently, 45 of the 67 Pennsylvania counties were in the substantial level of community spread, including Bucks and Montgomery counties.

The CDC has identified five COVID-19 variants – from the U.K., South Africa, Brazil and two detected first in California – which seem to spread more easily, and quickly, than other variants, which could result in a rise in new cases.

Mutations change proteins on the surface of a virus. Those proteins attach to human cells, allowing the virus to enter the body.

Those variants can cause milder, or more severe, illness; they can make available treatments and vaccines less effective, which makes it harder to prevent community spread. Current testing methods may not be able to detect a new mutation of the virus, allowing it to spread quickly and widely.

Current COVID vaccines available in the U.S. are 70% effective against symptomatic COVID from the U.K. variant, but only 28% effective in protecting against asymptomatic disease from that variant, meaning those who are vaccinated can still spread it.

Clinical trials for the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine show it’s only 57% effective in stopping symptomatic COVID from the variant that originated in South Africa.

Pfizer says its new data shows its vaccine is 100% effective against the South African variant.

The Moderna vaccine is also effective against the two California variants, B.1.429 and B.1.351, which are spreading quickly in the U.S., according Duke University researchers. Novavax, a vaccine candidate the FDA will be considering soon, also performed well against the California variant, according to the researchers. The researchers did not test the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness with the California strain but said the Moderna findings would be comparable because it used similar technology.

Both vaccines showed “significant declines” in effectiveness against the South African variant, according to the Duke researchers.

The National Institutes of Health has started testing a booster shot from Moderna against the South African variant, and it could be available by the end of this year.

Be seeing you

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