The Daily Dose: New COVID-19 virus strain rattles countries around the world.

A routine COVID-19 meeting in Kent, UK has shaken the world after it was reported that a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 is sweeping across the country. Per Science, “Less than two weeks later, that variant is causing mayhem in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe. Yesterday, U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson announced stricter lockdown measures, saying the strain, which goes by the name B.1.1.7, appears to be better at spreading between people. The news led many Londoners to leave the city today, before the new rules take effect, causing overcrowded railway stations. Also today, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy announced they were temporarily halting passenger flights from the United Kingdom. The Eurostar train between Brussels and the British capital will stop running at midnight tonight for at least 24 hours.” Scientists are trying to understand how the strain was able to undergo 17 simultaneous mutations, something unheard of up to this point. However, the article points out that up to this point, data on the new strain has yet to indicate how serious a threat this is. That hasn’t stopped countries from closing their borders to the UK.

More information about the closure of borders. Per the Associated Press, “A growing list of European Union nations and Canada barred travel from the U.K. on Sunday and others were considering similar action, in a bid to block a new strain of coronavirus sweeping across southern England from spreading to the continent. France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and Bulgaria all announced restrictions on U.K. travel, hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Christmas shopping and gatherings in southern England must be canceled because of rapidly spreading infections blamed on the new coronavirus variant.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything the world has experienced for generations. As a result, public health officials are acquiring crucial data that will shape epidemiology in the future. One are of concern has been the effects of various lockdowns. Per Nature, “An analysis of COVID-19 data from 41 countries has identified 3 measures that each substantially cut viral transmission: school and university closures, restricting gatherings to no more than 10 people and shutting businesses. But adding stay-at-home orders to those actions brought only marginal benefit.”

Changing the subject to yet another controversial topic…Researchers wanted to determine just how far people would go to limit consumption of foods tied to carbon emissions. According to the paper’s authors, “Differences in perceptions and readiness to adopt sustainable dietary behaviours were observed between demographic groups, with women significantly more likely than men to be in action/maintenance (A/M) stages of change for prioritising plant proteins (OR 0.54), and younger participants more likely to be in pre-contemplation/contemplation (PC/C) stages of change for ‘choose organic produce’ (OR 2.03) and ‘choose sustainable fish’ (OR 2.45).” Results aren’t too surprising.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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