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The coronavirus is becoming more genetically diverse, leaving experts worried – Global News

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The race against the virus that causes COVID-19 has taken a new turn: Mutations are rapidly popping up, and the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a variant that can elude current tests, treatments and vaccines could emerge.

The coronavirus is becoming more genetically diverse, and health officials say the high rate of new cases is the main reason. Each new infection gives the virus a chance to mutate as it makes copies of itself, threatening to undo the progress made so far to control the pandemic.

READ MORE: New coronavirus strains — here’s what you need to know 
On Friday, the World Health Organization urged more effort to detect new variants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a new version first identified in the United Kingdom may become dominant in the U.S. by March. Although it doesn’t cause more severe illness, it will lead to more hospitalizations and deaths just because it spreads much more easily, said the CDC, warning of “a new phase of exponential growth.”

“We’re taking it really very seriously,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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“We need to do everything we can now … to get transmission as low as we possibly can,” said Harvard University’s Dr. Michael Mina. “The best way to prevent mutant strains from emerging is to slow transmission.”

So far, vaccines seem to remain effective, but there are signs that some of the new mutations may undermine tests for the virus and reduce the effectiveness of antibody drugs as treatments.






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Coronavirus: Travel ban over Brazilian COVID-19 variant precautionary, U.K. transport minister says


Coronavirus: Travel ban over Brazilian COVID-19 variant precautionary, U.K. transport minister says

“We’re in a race against time” because the virus “may stumble upon a mutation” that makes it more dangerous, said Dr. Pardis Sabeti, an evolutionary biologist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

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Younger people may be less willing to wear masks, shun crowds and take other steps to avoid infection because the current strain doesn’t seem to make them very sick, but “in one mutational change, it might,” she warned. Sabeti documented a change in the Ebola virus during the 2014 outbreak that made it much worse.

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Mutations on the rise

It’s normal for viruses to acquire small changes or mutations in their genetic alphabet as they reproduce. Ones that help the virus flourish give it a competitive advantage and thus crowd out other versions.

In March, just a couple of months after the coronavirus was discovered in China, a mutation called D614G emerged that made it more likely to spread. It soon became the dominant version in the world.

Now, after months of relative calm, “we’ve started to see some striking evolution” of the virus, biologist Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle wrote on Twitter last week. “The fact that we’ve observed three variants of concern emerge since September suggests that there are likely more to come.”

Read more:
‘No need to panic’: COVID-19 mutations unlikely to impact vaccine, experts say

One was first identified in the United Kingdom and quickly became dominant in parts of England. It has now been reported in at least 30 countries, including the United States.

Soon afterward, South Africa and Brazil reported new variants, and the main mutation in the version identified in Britain turned up on a different version “that’s been circulating in Ohio … at least as far back as September,” said Dr. Dan Jones, a molecular pathologist at Ohio State University who announced that finding last week.

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“The important finding here is that this is unlikely to be travel-related” and instead may reflect the virus acquiring similar mutations independently as more infections occur, Jones said.

That also suggests that travel restrictions might be ineffective, Mina said. Because the United States has so many cases, “we can breed our own variants that are just as bad or worse” as those in other countries, he said.

Treatment, vaccine, reinfection risks

Some lab tests suggest the variants identified in South Africa and Brazil may be less susceptible to antibody drugs or convalescent plasma, antibody-rich blood from COVID-19 survivors — both of which help people fight off the virus.

Government scientists are “actively looking” into that possibility, Dr. Janet Woodcock of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told reporters Thursday. The government is encouraging development of multi-antibody treatments rather than single-antibody drugs to have more ways to target the virus in case one proves ineffective, she said.


Click to play video 'U.K. goes into national lockdown, as COVID-19 variant continues spread'



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U.K. goes into national lockdown, as COVID-19 variant continues spread


U.K. goes into national lockdown, as COVID-19 variant continues spread – Jan 5, 2021

Current vaccines induce broad enough immune responses that they should remain effective, many scientists say. Enough genetic change eventually may require tweaking the vaccine formula, but “it’s probably going to be on the order of years if we use the vaccine well rather than months,” Dr. Andrew Pavia of the University of Utah said Thursday on a webcast hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

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Health officials also worry that if the virus changes enough, people might get COVID-19 a second time. Reinfection currently is rare, but Brazil already confirmed a case in someone with a new variant who had been sickened with a previous version several months earlier.

What to do

“We’re seeing a lot of variants, viral diversity, because there’s a lot of virus out there,” and reducing new infections is the best way to curb it, said Dr. Adam Lauring, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Loyce Pace, who heads the nonprofit Global Health Council and is a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, said the same precautions scientists have been advising all along “still work and they still matter.”

Read more:
BioNTech CEO says coronavirus vaccine ‘highly likely’ to protect against new strain

“We still want people to be masking up,” she said Thursday on a webcast hosted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“We still need people to limit congregating with people outside their household. We still need people to be washing their hands and really being vigilant about those public health practices, especially as these variants emerge.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Mar. 8 – Canada News – Castanet.net

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The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of Monday March 8, 2021.

_ Canada: 886,574 confirmed cases (30,268 active, 834,067 resolved, 22,239 deaths).The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 2,489 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 79.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 18,880 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,697.

There were 26 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 245 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 35. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.52 per 100,000 people.

There have been 25,159,921 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,006 confirmed cases (91 active, 909 resolved, six deaths).

There was one new case Sunday. The rate of active cases is 17.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 19 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people.

There have been 201,814 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 141 confirmed cases (26 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths).

There were two new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 16.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 112,416 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,659 confirmed cases (29 active, 1,565 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were two new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 2.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 18 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people.

There have been 366,679 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 1,455 confirmed cases (36 active, 1,391 resolved, 28 deaths).

There were two new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.61 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 25 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people.

There have been 242,695 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 292,631 confirmed cases (7,100 active, 275,059 resolved, 10,472 deaths).

There were 707 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 82.8 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,891 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 699.

There were seven new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 79 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 122.13 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,452,036 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 308,296 confirmed cases (10,389 active, 290,840 resolved, 7,067 deaths).

There were 1,299 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 70.51 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,480 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,069.

There were 15 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.96 per 100,000 people.

There have been 11,205,314 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 32,225 confirmed cases (1,130 active, 30,188 resolved, 907 deaths).

There were 56 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 81.93 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 366 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 52.

There were two new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 12 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.76 per 100,000 people.

There have been 541,269 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 29,709 confirmed cases (1,517 active, 27,794 resolved, 398 deaths).

There were 116 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 128.7 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,062 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 152.

There were two new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 13 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 590,938 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 135,837 confirmed cases (4,949 active, 128,974 resolved, 1,914 deaths).

There were 300 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 111.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,333 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 333.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.28 per 100,000 people.

There have been 3,445,307 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 83,107 confirmed cases (4,975 active, 76,752 resolved, 1,380 deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 96.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,653 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 379.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 25 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.07 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.81 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,969,444 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people.

There have been 8,232 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (one active, 41 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 2.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 14,849 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 381 confirmed cases (25 active, 355 resolved, one deaths).

There were four new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 63.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 24 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people.

There have been 8,852 tests completed.

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COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up – Oak Bay News

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After months of anticipation, vaccination clinics for B.C.’s oldest residents and Indigenous seniors are set to begin booking appointments. Here’s what you need to know.

All health authorities in B.C. will begin booking appointments starting at 7 a.m. PST on Monday (March 8) for seniors who are age 90 and up, Indigenous seniors age 65 and up and Indigenous Elders. Vaccination appointments will begin on March 15.

Dozens of sites will be open across the province, with some operating as drive-thrus. Mobile teams will help vaccinate seniors who cannot leave their homes, while community groups will help those who cannot book on their own.

Before you call Monday morning, make sure you are (or are calling for):

  • a senior aged 90 and up
  • an Indigenous senior aged 65 and up
  • an Indigenous Elder

Booking starts at 7 a.m. PST on Monday and runs 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Online booking in Fraser Health will be available around the clock. Call centre operators will ask for legal name, date of birth, postal code, personal health number, phone number and an email address. They will not ask for banking or credit card information, nor for social insurance numbers.

To book an appointment:

  • Fraser Health residents can book by phone at 1-855-755-2455 or online at www.Fraserhealth.ca/vaccinebooking.
  • Vancouver Coastal Health residents can book by phone at 1-877-587-5767
  • Island Health residents can book by phone at 1-833-348-4787
  • Interior Health residents can book by phone at 1-877-740-7747
  • Northern Health residents can book by phone at 1-844-255-7555

In most of B.C., seniors who are 85 and older can begin to book appointments on March 15 for dates starting March 22. Seniors who are 80 and older can begin booking on March 22 for dates starting March 29. This may differ by health authority – Northern Health residents will not have clinics operating full time in most communities.

For more information:


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up – Clearwater Times

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After months of anticipation, vaccination clinics for B.C.’s oldest residents and Indigenous seniors are set to begin booking appointments. Here’s what you need to know.

All health authorities in B.C. will begin booking appointments starting at 7 a.m. PST on Monday (March 8) for seniors who are age 90 and up, Indigenous seniors age 65 and up and Indigenous Elders. Vaccination appointments will begin on March 15.

Dozens of sites will be open across the province, with some operating as drive-thrus. Mobile teams will help vaccinate seniors who cannot leave their homes, while community groups will help those who cannot book on their own.

Before you call Monday morning, make sure you are (or are calling for):

  • a senior aged 90 and up
  • an Indigenous senior aged 65 and up
  • an Indigenous Elder

Booking starts at 7 a.m. PST on Monday and runs 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Online booking in Fraser Health will be available around the clock. Call centre operators will ask for legal name, date of birth, postal code, personal health number, phone number and an email address. They will not ask for banking or credit card information, nor for social insurance numbers.

To book an appointment:

  • Fraser Health residents can book by phone at 1-855-755-2455 or online at www.Fraserhealth.ca/vaccinebooking.
  • Vancouver Coastal Health residents can book by phone at 1-877-587-5767
  • Island Health residents can book by phone at 1-833-348-4787
  • Interior Health residents can book by phone at 1-877-740-7747
  • Northern Health residents can book by phone at 1-844-255-7555

In most of B.C., seniors who are 85 and older can begin to book appointments on March 15 for dates starting March 22. Seniors who are 80 and older can begin booking on March 22 for dates starting March 29. This may differ by health authority – Northern Health residents will not have clinics operating full time in most communities.

For more information:


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

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