Can We Stop a Super Coronavirus?
The new variants of the coronavirus are even more dangerous than those known so far. Researchers and politicians fear a sharp increase in the number of infections, with dramatic consequences like those seen in Britain. Can Germany still stop the new killers? (…)
Three different new mutants of the novel coronavirus have begun spreading at break-neck speed around the world. They have two things in common: a very specific mutation – and they are far more effective at infecting people than previous versions, with the new variants likely up to 56 percent more infectious. There are also worries that they could prove less susceptible to some vaccines and that people who have already had COVID-19 could get infected again. (…)
The crucial question is this: Can the mutants still be stopped – and if so, how? "There is a real risk that the more transmissible B.1.1.7 will overtake the existing variants and cause another wave before widespread vaccination," says Kevin Esvelt, director of the Sculpting Evolution group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (…)
Experiments are now underway at major biomedical laboratories in South Africa, as well as at vaccine manufacturers, to determine whether the biggest worry of all is justified: that the vaccines will be less effective against the various new variants. Those experiments include exposing the virus to the blood serum of vaccinated patients.
If the virus survives, then humanity has a big problem. (…)
In Britain, it has become abundantly clear that a half-hearted lockdown was not enough to combat the new mutant. In November, at a time when there were some restrictions, but schools remained open and many people continued to go to work as normal, B.1.1.7 was able to spread deeper into the population. (…)
Merkel's Chancellery also believes that it is urgently necessary to keep tough measures in place or even to intensify them (…)
"There's no reason to believe that the virus won't become more efficient over time."
Patrick Mallon is a professor of microbial diseases in the University College Dublin School of Medicine and a consultant in infectious diseases at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin.
Merkel's cabinet is also examining new measures: Do border controls have to be reintroduced to protect against the mutants? Should the federal government withdraw the right of states to draw up their own measures, a move that would require parliamentary approval? Should there be a nationwide requirement that FFP2 masks be worn as is currently the case in Bavaria, or would that give people a false sense of security? Is a regulation necessary to force employers to allow more of their staff to work from home? Should the number of passengers in buses and subways be limited, or should public transportation systems be shut down entirely?
Por: Matthias Bartsch, Felix Bohr, Rafaela von Bredow, Hubert Gude, Veronika Hackenbroch, Martin Knobbe, Kerstin Kullmann, Cornelia Schmergal, Thomas Schulz, Gerald Traufetter e Steffen Winter
Fonte: Spiegel online, em 19 de Janeiro de 2021
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