Despite Great Britain’s drifting to full lockdown and discoveries of a new coronavirus strain in California and Colorado, the reports of it being deadlier than the original are being overstated despite its being more contagious. However, the newly discovered variant could make the political outcomes far tougher than they are now despite places such as Wuhan, China carrying on as normal.
The More Transmissible U.K. COVID-19 Variant Could Make the Pandemic a Lot Worse
Ramp up the vaccinations now!
Ronald Bailey, 12/28/2020, Reason
Researchers in the United Kingdom identified a new variant of the coronavirus earlier this month—one that appears to be around 56 percent more transmissible than the more common strains that have been afflicting humanity for the past year. While we have seen no evidence that this strain causes more severe illness, it could nevertheless ramp up the deleterious consequences of the pandemic dramatically.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine epidemiologist Adam Kucharski offers some simple calculations to illustrate why a COVID-19 variant that is 50 percent more transmissible is likely to be a bigger problem than a variant that is 50 percent more deadly.
Kucharski begins by assuming that the basic reproduction number (R0) of COVID-19—that is, the number of people on average to whom an infected person will pass along the disease—is 1.1. If R0 is above 1.0, the virus will continue to spread. When R0 is below 1.0, the virus will stop spreading. As it happens, the R0 for the U.S. has indeed been hovering around 1.1 recently.
Kucharski then assumes an infection fatality rate (IFR) of 0.8 percent. While calculated IFRs vary considerably among the various states, this assumption is similar to Indiana’s roughly calculated IFR of 0.73 percent in late November.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay