Covid 19 Coronavirus: Northland Group Case South Africa variant of what’s identified about it
The latest Covid-19 case in Northland is the first in the community of new variants conquering the globe.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today that the case is the South African variant, which is believed to be more contagious than the original coronavirus strain.
It was “very likely” that the 56-year-old woman, who lives south of Whangārei, contracted the virus from a returnee colleague while she was in managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland from January 9-13.
“This is good news because we know where the source of infection is and we don’t need to distract our scientists and health professionals from other work related to Covid,” said Hipkins.
The Director General for Health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said there was little epidemiological data available on the South African variant called B.126.96.36.199.
“What we do know so far is that it may be more transmissible, but that’s not as clear as the information on the variant that was first identified in the UK.
“There is evidence that this variant can bypass some aspects of the body’s immune response.”
Bloomfield said it was still early and they would keep a close eye on what this means.
New forms or variants have become “more and more common” worldwide.
“They’re not limited to specific countries. And we expected to see them in New Zealand.”
On the subject of matching items
Another variant called B.1.1.7 spread very quickly in the UK, and another variant was also observed in Brazil.
As of January 21, the ministry had discovered 36 people had come to New Zealand with the contagious strains since they showed up late last year – 29 samples of the British variant and seven of the South African variant.
The Herald has been looking for more recent data but received no response at the time of publication.
The variants arose from changes in the genetic code of Covid-19, which are common to other viruses, but most mutations have no effect on the spread of the disease or its severity.
However, the new variant discovered in the UK is more transmissible than the original virus that prevailed in 2020. This means that it will spread more easily from one person to another.
New data has also found it to be more deadly.
Professor Neil Ferguson of the UK Government’s Virus Advisory Board said the latest data showed that up to 13 in 1,000 people over the age of 60 who become infected with the variant strain could die, compared to 10 in 1,000 who caught the original variant .
The variants found in South Africa and Brazil share some of the same mutations as the B.1.1.7 variant. There is some evidence that they may be more transmissible or better able to evade immunity.
However, these variants are less reliable, partly because the data quality is not as high as in Great Britain, where genome sequencing can be carried out very well.
With the British variant, the average number of people to whom an infected person with Covid-19 passes the virus – the so-called R number – is 40 to 70 percent higher than with the original variant with B.1.1.7.
Because of its exponential growth, a 50 percent increase in portability results in 25 times more cases in just a few months if not verified. This is evident from the modeling by Professor Michael Plank from the University of Canterbury and Professor Shaun Hendy from the University of Auckland.
This would result in 25 times more deaths at the original death rate, and even more if the rate is higher.
Plank and Hendy say that this higher infection rate for the new variants means that any community outbreak must be combined with bigger tools.
For example, during the August 2020 outbreak in Auckland, a level 3 alert was sufficient to contain and eventually eliminate the outbreak. Our analysis found that the 3 alert reduced R to around 0.7.
“If we had a similar breakout with the new variant, R could be 50 percent higher, which would mean it is above 1.
“In other words, we would likely have to use level 4 alert to contain an outbreak and the virus could take longer to clear than before.
“To give our contact tracers the best possible chance of containing a new outbreak without needing a 3 or 4 alert, we must all do our part.
“This means that you can search for QR codes on the go and scan them with the app and stay at home and get tested if you feel sick.”