Mutant strain keeps us teetering on tier 3

Today we teeter on tier 3.  There is the tiniest chance that our rural-ish town could be decoupled from the nearby big bad city that is keeping our pubs and restaurants closed.

The infection numbers locally are looking promising and there’s talk in parliament that delinking might be on the cards but I have so little trust in what I’m hearing that I won’t be holding my breath.

This morning all of London and parts of surrounding counties joined us and over 30 million English citizens in tier 3 and it feels like the direction of tier travel is now up not down.

Now there’s talk from the usual suspects – leftie politicians and the medical establishment – of the five days of eased restrictions over Christmas being cancelled.

How convenient that a new “mutant strain” with its “exponential growth” of coronavirus cases should be discovered the day before the London announcement.

The discovery, of course, helps justify the London lockdown and its devastating impact on 10,000s of jobs in hospitality, travel and the arts.   It also helps fuel more paranoia and underlines the message that we need to be “jolly careful” over the festive break.

After all it’s not the first time we’ve been nudged, misled, lied to even, ahead of lockdowns.   Numbers released ahead of the November announcement set out scenarios for 40,000 cases and 4,000 deaths a day.   Neither has anywhere near come to pass and the scary graphs have been quietly revised downwards.

This new Covid-19 variant with the snappy name ‘VUI – 202012/01’ apparently carries a set of mutations including N501Y mutation to part of the genetic sequence which forms the spike protein, whatever all that means.

Apparently any change in shape of the spike protein could make it more difficult for the immune system to spot and Government scientists are studying it at our infamous laboratories at Porton Down.

So, how frightened should we be?   Apparently coronaviruses mutate frequently and many thousands of mutations have already arisen in the SARS-CoV-2 genome since the virus emerged in 2019.  As early as March scientists had already discovered the virus has evolved into two major lineages (dubbed ‘L’ and ‘S’ types).  Other variants have been found in Western Europe and North America.

Could it hamper the vaccine?  Probably not the experts say.  Are the experts worried?  Not really.  Professor Tom Solomon, the Director of the NIHR Health Protection  Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infection, at the University of Liverpool, said: “Just because there has been a small change in the virus’ genetic make-up this does not mean it is any more virulent, nor that vaccines won’t be effective.”

I don’t doubt that our Government is doing what it thinks is right in terms of the nation’s health and NHS capacity but the communication around this “mutant strain” is fuelling my cynicism.  It feels to me that talk of the coronavirus variant is being used to make us frightened enough to back the latest lockdowns and be jolly careful over Christmas.

Published by brianjonesdiary

Dad, husband, brother and son. Interested in travel, politics, sport, health and much more. Semi-retired and aiming to making the most of life as I approach my sixth decade.

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