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A new COVID strain?

You may be wondering:  Why is a 70% more infectious mutation of Covid-19 cause for the Government to immediately declare a Tier 4 emergency in London?  There are efforts ongoing to verify the 70% estimate and until now there is no final verification.  But if it is verified, the consequences can be explosive and cause all the remarkable efforts of vaccines to have a limited impact.  We believe the Government acted prudently.   

 This is what happens in Westminster if a 70% more infectious mutation takes over.

There is a lot of information in this chart and much more information available in the Covid-19 Westminster model, but from this analysis, it is clear that at this time the risk is hugely increased by the possibility of a 70% more infectious mutation.  In summary from top left:

  1. Mutation more than doubles the scale of projected reported cases/day from 80 to 180 in February
  2. Without the mutation and no actions, vaccines would save 100 deaths.  With extra vigilance, 250 saved
  3. With the mutation, everything moves faster. Vaccines save 55 deaths. With extra vigilance, 275 saved
  4. Peak infections circulating with no mutation is 15,000 or 6% of the population; with mutation up to 13%
  5. Vaccines at the current rate of availability are not a solution but vigilance can give them time to act
  6. Severe cases at the home double with the mutation, but vigilance can reduce this to very low levels

Our assumptions are the levels of vigilance required are consistent with what has been achieved in Westminster so this is not theoretical and could be achieved.   This depends, however, on whether the residents of Westminster can hold out and allow the vaccination program time to roll out.

The model of Westminster is not representative of London as a whole.  Covid-19 has spread much faster in other areas of London.  Paradoxically, this means that fewer people are likely to remain susceptible in those locations and the risks going forward may be lower.  Other areas have been less impacted than Westminster so far and in those areas, the risk is higher. Therefore, it is not accurate to scale up the results from Westminster to get an answer for Greater London.  However, it is directionally indicative.

Scaling-up in proportion to the population for Greater London saves 9500 lives and about the same number of severe infections and long-term health issues.  Waiting with Vigilance in Tier 4 for a few weeks to have the confirmation of the data on the infectiousness of the mutation seems to be a prudent decision for London.


(Feature Image Credit:@lomash_s on Unsplash)


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