It is also a bit ironic that UK citizens can't go to Europe because it is now suffering a third wave but that third wave is largely due to the variant that arose in Kent and which the UK kindly donated to them.
Kilkis wrote:Let's face it Saddler, anything I post offends you. This is a quote from a New Scientist article:
Where did the UK variant come from?
“It very much looks like a point source in England,” says Susan Hopkins at Public Health England. In other words, it came from a single individual. There is speculation that it could have evolved in the body of a person with a weakened immune system, meaning the immune response wasn’t strong enough to kill off the virus but did force it to evolve. This would help explain why it has more mutations than normal.
While nobody can prove with 100 % certainty that the B.1.1.7 variant arose in the UK it is clearly the opinion of Public Health England that it did and if anybody should know they should. It is also inescapable that it is the B.1.1.7 variant, with its 50 % higher transmissibility, that is mainly responsible for the rapidly increasing spread in Europe now. You might not like how I expressed my point but it is accurate. The UK had one of the worst performances in Europe in controlling spread of the virus in the early phase of the pandemic. As you note yourself mutations occur most where the virus is most prevalent. It is no accident that the most concerning variants arose in the UK, in South Africa and in Brazil. If these three countries had exerted better control those variants might not have arisen and thousands of lives might have been saved.
As a point of accuracy there is no evidence of "bureaucratic lethargy of the EMA". The UK approved vaccines faster than the EMA purely because of the approval procedure, not due to any lethargy on the part of the EMA. The MHRA opted for an "emergency use" approval process which is less stringent than the "conditional use" approval process used by the EMA. I presume this was done with the agreement of the UK government since "emergency use" approval places responsibility for any subsequent compensation claims on the government, i.e. the tax payer. The EMA has no authority to issue "emergency use" approval and "conditional use" approval is the lowest level they can issue. Conditional use approval leaves responsibility for any subsequent compensation claims on the shoulders of the pharmaceutical companies. There were 19 days between the MHRA issuing its first approval and the EMA issuing its first approval which is not really a long time given the different levels of approval. I suspect that the EMA are aware that vaccine hesitancy is much higher in many parts of Europe and a more rapid approval might have been counter-productive. It is pointless issuing approval a few weeks earlier if that results in a bigger proportion of the population refusing to take it.
Emergency use approval can only be issued by national regulatory bodies and only for their own national jurisdiction. Any EU country could, if it wished, have got its own regulatory body to issue "emergency use" approval rather than waiting for the EMA. They all chose not to. The EMA is made up of representatives from all the national regulatory bodies in the EU so each country's regulatory body had access to all the trial data that was submitted to the EMA, i.e. they had all the necessary information.
Also any EU country was free to opt out of the centralised Commission vaccine purchasing scheme, if they wished to, and could have negotiated their own supply contracts. The only constraint was that if they did opt into the Commission purchasing scheme they could not do side deals with any company that the Commission reached a deal with. They were still free to do additional deals with companies outside the Commission scheme, e.g as Hungary has done by issuing national emergency use approval for the Sputnik vaccine.
Kilkis wrote:It depends what you mean by "labelled". Scientists involved with COVID-19 will normally refer to the variants by their scientific designation, e.g. they might refer to the K417N, E484K and N501Y mutations of the spike protein on the B.1.351 lineage or the 501Y.V2 variant of the B.1.351 lineage or 20H/501Y.V2. Also the designation can change, e.g. 20H/501Y.V2 used to be 20C/501Y.V2. There are well over 4,000 variants most of which are of no particular concern. The average person in the street has no idea what these scientific designations mean nor do they need to. Therefore scientists who are communicating to the public use simple designations that are easy to understand. Of the three variants that are currently of serious concern one arose in the UK, one arose in South Africa and one arose in Brazil so it is simpler to refer to them in that way. I am sure there will be others that arise in other places in the future. They are all variants of SARS-CoV-2 which is the WHO designation for this particular Coronavirus. COVID-19 is the WHO designation for the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. If you become ill with any variant of SARS-CoV-2 then you have COVID-19.
It would be interesting to draw a Venn diagram of people who were pro-Brexit, those who were pro-remain, those who are very sensitive about references to the "UK variant" and those who are quite happy to use the term?
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