"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 9th Feb 2021

Isolation Tips
I've been in Covid quarantine in South Korea – there's a lot Britain can learn
The UK government’s decision to require overseas arrivals from “high risk” countries to self-isolate in hotels has triggered a debate on the effectiveness of enforced quarantine in government-run facilities. Some have balked at its cost and restrictive character while others have dismissed the measure as half-baked and too little, too late. My experience in a quarantine facility for Covid-19 patients in South Korea might be illuminating in this regard. Last November, I flew into South Korea to spend a holiday with my family. To sum up the complicated arrival process at Seoul: I was required to download a Covid-19 tracking app, had my temperature checked and was whisked away by pre-approved taxis to the public clinic nearest to my home to take a PCR test. I was then required to self-isolate for more than two weeks at home.
Bad online experiences for children ‘invisible’ to parents during lockdown
When Australia’s online safety investigators are investigating coercive child sex abuse material, which involves children being urged to perform sexual acts for the camera, there is often a concerning common factor: parents are having a conversation just metres away. “Our investigators can hear the parents’ voices in the next room,” said Julie Inman Grant, the country’s eSafety commissioner. “This is happening under parents’ noses, in the home.” The commissioner is ramping up calls for parents to improve awareness of their children’s digital lives, as young people’s reports of negative online experiences – including unwanted contact, cyberbullying and harassment – have spiked during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sharp rise in smoking linked to loneliness in lockdown
People who felt distressed and lonely during the country's lockdown last autumn were three times more likely to smoke more, a new study has found. The results of the survey, undertaken by University of Otago, Wellington researchers professor Janet Hoek, Dr Philip Gendall, associate professor James Stanley, Dr Matthew Jenkins and Dr Susanna Every-Palmer, have been published in the international journal, Nicotine and Tobacco Research. Dr Every-Palmer said people who felt lonely or isolated almost all the time were more than three times more likely to increase their cigarette intake than those who were never lonely
Inspire the kids: the best culture for children in lockdown
Actors, authors, musicians and Observer critics share tips for filling the after‑homeschool hours – from uplifting family films to creative apps, dance tutorials and sonic journals
Hygiene Helpers
4 in 5 Americans ready for COVID-19 shot, but vaccine messages remain key, analysis finds
Has the vaccine hesitancy tide turned into a wave of vaccine excitement? Possibly. A new W2O Group study using search and social data found that 80% of Americans are likely willing to get vaccinated. However, vaccine makers still have their work cut out for them—especially among certain groups of people—and messaging will be critical, W2O Chief Data Officer Seth Duncan said. Out of four groups of people established for the study, many of those who aren’t inclined to get vaccinated are politically right-leaning. Among the group—defined as those who follow at least three right-leaning politicians, journalists or news outlets—only 41% show a willingness to get a vaccine. That compares with 95% of center left, 93% of the educated left and 91% of the apolitical groups who are ready to get vaccinated.
Cambridge firms underpin game-changing lateral flow test for Covid-19
Two Cambridge-based biotechnology companies have been instrumental in the development of a game-changing platform for lateral flow (LF) tests that could be vital in the fight against Covid-19. Large-scale Covid-19 antibody screenings with high specificity and sensitivity, such as the LF test, could provide public health authorities with reliable data to monitor the impact of regional and national lockdown restrictions and provide evidence of antibody generation after vaccine immunisations. The platform is underpinned by Activotec, a laboratory equipment supplier based in Comberton, while Excivion is developing novel vaccines from St John’s Innovation Centre.
Covid testing expanded to more workplaces in England
Workplace Covid testing is being offered to more companies in England, for staff who cannot work from home during lockdown, the government says. Businesses with more than 50 employees are now able to access lateral flow tests, which can produce results in less than 30 minutes. Previously only firms with more than 250 staff qualified for testing. Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged businesses and employees to take up the offer to "stop this virus spreading". "When you consider that around one in three people have the virus without symptoms and could potentially infect people without even knowing it, it becomes clear why focusing testing on those without symptoms is so essential," he said, adding that firms should regularly test staff.
Western Australia to make masks mandatory for high school students and teachers in rigorous post-lockdown ruling - after recording another day of ZERO cases
Masks will be mandatory for teachers and senior school students in the Perth, Peel and South West regions. Western Australia recorded no new cases of Covid on Sunday, both within the community and in hotel quarantine.
Travellers to UK set to be tested after arrival
Travellers entering the UK are set to be tested for coronavirus a few days after they arrive. The new, expanded testing regime will be announced shortly. Enhancing the testing regime "to cover all arrivals while they isolate" would add another level of protection, the Department of Health said. The move is designed to help to track any new cases which might be brought into the country and make it easier to detect new variants. It is in addition to the current rules which say travellers arriving in the UK, whether by boat, train or plane, must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed entry. The test must be taken in the 72 hours before travelling, and anyone arriving without one faces a fine of up to £500.
A digital option is the right investment for at-home Covid-19 testing
The Biden administration’s recent investment of $230 million to expedite rapid production of the Ellume home Covid-19 test represents an audacious step forward in mitigating the pandemic. Some experts have criticized it as a “waste of money” because this kit costs more than other alternatives and because of the timing of the investment. I believe the test is worth the extra cost, due to its connectivity and the types of research it enables, though all of these tests need to be evaluated against the other options. Throughout the pandemic, public health officials have struggled to demonstrate the value and importance of measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, and vaccines. The ultimate result has been public skepticism, poor uptake of helpful interventions, and even outrageous conspiracy theories. We must learn from these missteps and design interventions that can be measured quickly and precisely.
Community Activities
Facebook cracks down on anti-vaccine accounts amid COVID surge
Facebook Inc. said it will take stronger steps to eliminate false information about Covid-19 and vaccines on its social network, a move that could remove major groups, accounts and Instagram pages for repeatedly spreading misinformation. The company is acting on advice from the World Health Organization and other groups to expand its list of false claims that are harmful, according to a blog post on Monday. Facebook will ask administrators of user groups to moderate such misinformation. Facebook-owned Instagram will also make it harder to find accounts that discourage vaccination, and remove them if they continuously violate the rules. The company this week will also include in its Covid-19 information center details from local health departments about when and where people can get vaccinated. If Facebook’s systems come across content that says the coronavirus is man-made or manufactured, that it is safer to get the disease than to get the vaccine, or that the shots are toxic, dangerous or cause autism, that content will be removed.
North West Academies Trust campaign to equip all pupils with laptops for home learning
Academic Trust is running a campaign to help children across Cheshire and Shropshire who don't have access to a laptop. Teachers who are part of North West Academies are working hard to maintain the highest possible standard when delivering classes remotely. The Chester-based trust decided to act when, despite distributing all school-owned laptops to pupils, an audit revealed there was still a substantial number of children without the necessary equipment to join the virtual classroom.
COVID-19: Undocumented migrants 'likely to remain fearful' despite govt's vaccine amnesty offer
The government's "vaccine amnesty" has been criticised for not giving enough assurance to those who are too scared to access healthcare in the UK. The Home Office has promised no action will be taken against people in the UK illegally if they register with a GP to be vaccinated. It is part of a government effort to get as many people as possible vaccinated against the virus, which has already caused the deaths of more than 112,000 people in the UK.
Covid: BAME communities urged to have coronavirus vaccine
"I'd shout it from the street - please have your vaccinations, you don't know what we're going through." This is a plea from Shamim Abbas of Newport, who lost husband Ghulam and brother-in-law Raza to Covid. The brothers died within hours of each other last April. Concerns have been growing in recent weeks about an apparent hesitancy from some people in black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to have the Covid-19 vaccine. And even though the virus has had such a devastating impact on Shamim's family, some relatives have been unsure about having it.
Web searches could help detect Covid-19 outbreaks early, study says
Using symptom-related searches through Google could allow experts to predict a peak in cases on average 17 days in advance, a group from University College London (UCL) said. Analysing internet search activity is already used to track and understand the seasonal flu. Using data on Covid-19 web searches in a similar way alongside more established approaches could improve public health surveillance methods. “Adding to previous research that has showcased the utility of online search activity in modelling infectious diseases such as influenza, this study provides a new set of tools that can be used to track Covid-19,” said lead author Dr Vasileios Lampos.
How Australia beat COVID-19 while the United States and Britain broke
Australia is a fortress of hope in a world conquered by COVID-19. But, even as vaccines raise the prospect of relief, the siege is growing stronger. And the cracks in our defences are growing. Incompetence. Hesitance. Partisan politics. All are being blamed across the world for overwhelmed health systems, stalled economies and soaring death rates. Australia has dodged these bullets. So far.
COVID-19: NHS staff fall victim to anti-Chinese hate crimes - amid fears violence will rise when lockdown ends
Police chiefs have warned they will "respond robustly" to anti-Chinese hate crimes amid concerns there could be a surge in offences once lockdown ends. The COVID-19 Anti-Racism Group (CARG) has told Sky News it is witnessing worrying levels of hate speech online linked to the pandemic - and it fears this will turn into violence when coronavirus restrictions are eased. One Chinese health worker told the survey: "Patients and people in general say that COVID-19 originated from China and that being of Chinese descent is culpable for the pandemic."
Britons set for a post-Covid spending binge, says Bank chief
The Bank of England is braced for the possibility that a mood of national depression that engulfed Britain as it plunged into a third national lockdown will end with a spending spree when restrictions are lifted. In an interview with the Observer, the Bank’s governor, Andrew Bailey, said there was a chance after being cooped up for so long people would “go for it” once the vaccine programme allowed the economy to reopen. Bailey said that while the crisis of the past 12 months had accelerated the shift to online shopping and would change working patterns, the long-term structural impact on the economy would be less pronounced than the shift from manufacturing to services in the 1980s and 1990s. “It won’t be as fundamental as that”, he added.
New Zealand's Māori tribes deserve recognition for their part in vanquishing Covid-19
Global business leaders and others rightly rate New Zealand’s Covid-19 response as the best in the world. But is it equally right to simply credit Ardern and her government for this success? Partly, of course, but another group deserve credit too – iwi. When the country went into lockdown in March 2020 iwi on the East Coast of the North Island, its west coast, and its northerly tip swung into action distributing masks, sanitizer, written advice, and food parcels to vulnerable people in their region. Crucially, they also set up checkpoints to regulate movement in and out of their territory, ensuring the virus had no chance to transmit as the country went about its restrictions. In the early days some New Zealanders were furious with that particular intrusion on their movements. But despite the small yet vocal backlash, the government came around to the iwi initiatives.
'It's all open!': French flock to Madrid cafes for pandemic reprieve
French tourists weary of their strict national lockdown are flocking over the border to Madrid, where bars and restaurants are open and people can stay outdoors until 10 p.m., even as COVID-19 batters Europe in a virulent third wave. Though it made mask-wearing mandatory and slashed occupancy of public spaces by half, Madrid’s conservative regional government has set one of Spain’s loosest curfews, defying national recommendations to shut hospitality venues and non-essential shops. The city’s counter-current policies stand out in Spain which, like France, is being pummelled by a third infection wave.
Working Remotely
Tips For Your First 100 Days Working In A New Remote Role
Starting a new job can be challenging and there are even more hurdles during the pandemic. As CBS 2 continues Working for Chicago, we’re talking to a human resource executive about how to handle your first 100 days in a remote role.
Remote working more appealing to certain age groups, study finds
Two in every five workers in Ireland are happy to stay working from home post-Covid, according to a new study. Esri Ireland found middle-aged people want to continue to work remotely while younger staff and people near the end of their careers would prefer a return to the office. From the 1,000 people surveyed by Esri Ireland, there is a clear divide between age groups, with 63 per cent of people under the age of 24 and 75 per cent of people over 55 wanted to return to the office. Meanwhile, almost half of the people in their late twenties and early thirties wanted to stay working from home.
Lessons Learned About Remote Work, One Year In After The Great Dispersal
March 2020 may seem like decades ago, but we are coming on the 12th month since the great corporate dispersal brought on by the Covid-19 crisis. That’s when every single office worksite broke up into a hundred smaller worksites ensconced within employees’ home offices, kitchen tables, spare bedrooms, or corners of bedrooms. How goes this great Work-from-Anywhere experiment? So far, so good, and a lot of lessons have been learned. First, that remote work is sustainable, and doesn’t affect productivity. Second, the experiment has been uneven, mainly enabling the professional and managerial class to work from the comfort of their homes, while frontline workers have had to stick it out in the public space. Third, the tools and technologies available have proven themselves in stressful situations. Finally, even for professional, managerial and office workers, there’s still always going to be a need to meet and interact face to face.
Making a good job of remote work
Coronavirus caused radical and uneven disruption to work and people’s personal lives around the world. The question for businesses, policymakers and employees today is how remote working evolves in the longer term and whether they can harness its benefits. Will people spend as much time working at home in 2030 as they did in 2020? Remote work gained ground because of the pandemic and has the potential to produce great long-term benefits for employers and workers alike: fewer commutes, cheaper property and a larger pool of talent and jobs. But our forced episode of remote working over the past year is not enough to deliver those benefits. Business leaders, entrepreneurs and policymakers thinking creatively in the coming years will determine whether and how quickly remote work becomes a permanent legacy of the pandemic.
How to stay inspired and creative while working remotely
We hear a lot about the challenges of sustaining productivity in the WFH context. But the deeper, underlying issue has gone unaddressed: You can't have productivity without creativity. Without access to the activities and people we've traditionally sought inspiration from — whether colleagues or concerts, travel or theatre, dance or Degas — our creative wells are drying up, which has enormous consequences in the workplace.
Virtual Classrooms
Schools plan for potential of remote learning into the fall
After seeing two academic years thrown off course by the pandemic, school leaders around the U.S. are planning for the possibility of more distance learning next fall at the start of yet another school year. “We have no illusions that COVID will be eradicated by the time the start of the school year comes up,” said William “Chip” Sudderth III, a spokesperson for Durham, North Carolina schools, whose students have been out of school buildings since March. President Joe Biden has made reopening schools a top priority, but administrators say there is much to consider as new strains of the coronavirus appear and teachers wait their turn for vaccinations
Report shows struggles of disadvantaged pupils in lockdown
Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds found remote learning significantly more difficult than other students last year, a new study has found. Non-profit body ImpactEd monitored 62,000 pupils in England through eight months of 2020 to assess the effect of online schooling during the pandemic. Their report, Lockdown Lessons, found that among pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds – those at schools eligible for the Government’s Pupil Premium grant – only 45% said they understood their schoolwork in lockdown, compared with 57% among other students.
Public Policies
Cambodia gets first COVID-19 vaccine from key ally China
Cambodia on Sunday received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine, a donation of 600,000 doses from China the country’s biggest ally. Prime Minister Hun Sen his senior Cabinet members and Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian were at Phnom Penh International Airport for a reception ceremony for the Sinopharm vaccine carried by a Chinese Air Force flight. Hun Sen had announced that he would be the first person to be vaccinated, but backtracked last week, saying the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine was effective only for people aged between 18 and 59, while he is 68. He said Sunday at the airport that he would urge younger members of his family, as well as top officials and generals under 60, to get vaccinated Wednesday as an example to the public
China approves Sinovac's coronavirus vaccine -
China’s national regulator has approved Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use by the general public. This is the second vaccine approved by China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA). Both of the vaccines, along with another experimental vaccine from Sinopharm, have been used in China’s vaccination programme. More than 31 million doses have been administered, mainly targeting groups at higher infection risks, while a fourth experimental vaccine from CanSino Biologics has been given to military personnel. Brazilian clinical trial results published last month showed the vaccine, dubbed Coronavac, is just over 50% effective.
Quebec, Nova Scotia and Alberta begin relaxing COVID-19 restrictions
Several provinces began relaxing COVID-19 restrictions on Monday amid what Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam described as “hopeful signs of declining COVID-19 activity.“ Loosened rules went into effect in Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia, while the Ontario government announced that restrictions in some parts of the province would start being eased on Wednesday. The number of new cases reported daily across the country is continuing to trend down, Tam said in a statement. But she warned that these trends could reverse quickly and that new variants “could rapidly accelerate transmission of COVID-19 in Canada.”
Revisiting Ischgl: Austria eases coronavirus lockdown, annoys Bavaria
Austria is easing its coronavirus lockdown after six weeks, despite stubbornly high infection numbers. While the government is keeping bars, restaurants and hotels closed and a nighttime curfew in place, schools, hairdressers and museums reopened on Monday under strict hygiene rules as testing capacities were expanded. The move came amid growing pressure on Vienna to lift at least some restrictions, with data showing that Austria's economic downturn is particularly severe. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the economy contracted by 4.3 percent over the previous quarter amid slumping tourism, the worst performance of any EU country for that period.
Israel begins exit from third virus lockdown
Israeli barbershops and some other businesses reopened Sunday as the country began easing its third coronavirus lockdown Sunday amid an aggressive vaccination campaign. Early Friday, the government announced it was lifting some restrictions imposed since December, when the country saw a rise in Covid-19 infections. Jerusalem barber Eli Aroas was among those re-opening on Sunday morning, the start of the working week.
S Africa looking to roll out AstraZeneca jab in ‘stepped manner’
South Africa is looking to roll out the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in a “stepped manner” to assess its ability to prevent severe illness, according to a key adviser to the country’s government. On Sunday, almost a week after receiving its first one million doses, the continent’s hardest-hit country said it would put on hold its use of the vaccine after research showed it was only minimally effective in preventing mild-to-moderate illness against a variant of the coronavirus now dominant in South Africa. Speaking to a briefing of the World Health Organization (WHO), Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the country’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19, said it was too early to say whether the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca vaccine would still be effective in preventing serious disease, as there was not yet enough data on its effectiveness in older people against the variant. South Africa paused its roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine for now while determining the next steps, and could vaccinate 100,000 people with the shot to see how well it works on preventing hospitalisations and deaths.
Maintaining Services
Confusion and chaos: Inside the vaccine rollout in D.C., Maryland and Virginia
The first precious boxloads of the frozen elixir arrived in December, bearing great promise for curtailing the pandemic that has paralyzed the region and the world. Nurses and firefighters got injections on live TV. Some of them cried. Watching at home, many hopeful people cried, too. But in the weeks that followed, that hope was mixed with frustration, then anger, as it became clear that getting the potentially lifesaving vaccine would not be easy — not nationally, and not in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
López Obrador’s pandemic optimism falls flat after he catches Covid-19
On his first day in isolation after contracting Covid-19, Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador had a call with Vladimir Putin. Whereas his first call with President Joe Biden, three days earlier, had been “friendly and respectful”, López Obrador gushed about the “genuine affection” from the Russian president as Mexico prepared to receive 24m doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Foreign diplomacy does not usually interest López Obrador, but this time it was urgent: Mexico, one of the world’s worst-hit countries, faced a three-week halt in vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and needed more fast.
'I've Never Seen Such Sadness': Doctors' Burden Of Watching Daily Tragedies, Then Going Home To Lockdown
Usually we would go home from an awful shift and maybe have a drink or a meal with a friend, maybe go to the gym, maybe play some music and laugh. And then we are recharged and ready for when we go back to our next shift and we are able to deal with all the awfulness again.
What recovery? Clothes retailers cut orders while factories fight to survive
Clothes retailers in Europe and America sit on excess inventory and cut back on spring orders. Sourcing agents face late payments. Garment factories in Bangladesh are on the rack. The global apparel industry, reeling from a punishing 2020, is seeing its hopes of recovery punctured by a new wave of COVID-19 lockdowns and patchy national vaccine rollouts. The pain is consequently flowing to  major garment manufacturing centres like Bangladesh, whose economies rely on textile exports. Factories are struggling to stay open.
US administers more than 4 million Covid vaccines to most vulnerable: ‘We are on the path to protection’
The United States has administered more than 4.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to 3.8 million of its most vulnerable people in an effort to decrease hospitalisations and deaths caused by the novel virus. "Those who are dying in large numbers last year are now on the path to protection," said Andy Slavitt, Joe Biden's senior coronavirus adviser, during the White House Covid response team press briefing on Monday. People living in long-term care facilities, alongside healthcare workers, were prioritised above all others in the country to receive a Covid-19 vaccine. This was after the country witnessed deadly spreads of the novel virus within these facilities last year.
Pfizer expects to cut COVID-19 vaccine production time by close to 50% as production ramps up, efficiencies increase
Pfizer expects to nearly cut in half the amount of time it takes to produce a batch of COVID-19 vaccine from 110 days to an average of 60 as it makes the process more efficient and production is built out, the company told USA TODAY. As the nation revs up its vaccination programs, the increase could help relieve bottlenecks caused by vaccine shortages. "We call this 'Project Light Speed,' and it's called that for a reason," said Chaz Calitri, Pfizer's vice president for operations for sterile injectables, who runs the company's plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. "Just in the last month we've doubled output."
Healthcare Innovations
Global health officials back AstraZeneca vaccine after South Africa study rings alarm
Health officials around the world gave their backing to the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19, after a study showing it had little effect against mild disease caused by the variant now spreading quickly in South Africa rang global alarm. The prospect that new virus variants could evolve the ability to elude vaccines is one of the main risks hanging over the global strategy to emerge from the pandemic by rolling out vaccines this year. South Africa, where a new variant now accounts for the vast bulk of cases, initially announced a pause in its rollout of a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. But it said on Monday it could still roll it out in a “stepped manner”, giving out 100,000 doses and monitoring it to see if it prevents hospitalisations and deaths.
China's CanSino Coronavirus Vaccine Shows 65.7% Efficacy
CanSino Biologics Inc.’s experimental coronavirus shot has an efficacy rate of 65.7% at preventing symptomatic cases based on an analysis from late-stage trials, making it the latest vaccine candidate to show some protection against Covid-19. The shot co-developed by the Chinese military and the Tianjin-based biotech company proved effective against symptomatic Covid-19, based on a multi-country analysis first posted on Twitter by Faisal Sultan, Pakistan’s health adviser, on Monday. CanSino later forwarded Sultan’s announcement in a statement. The final stage trail included 30,000 participants and was also 90.98% effective in preventing severe disease, Sultan said. A vaccine needs to afford at least a 50% protection rate to be considered effective, as mandated by the world’s leading drug regulators and the World Health Organization.
AstraZeneca, Oxford race to update COVID-19 vaccine as study flags weak action against variant
It didn’t take long before a morale boost for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was overshadowed by disappointment over its waned protection against a newly emerged coronavirus variant. A new study has found AZ’s COVID-19 shot offered “minimal protection” against mild to moderate disease caused by the B.1.351 variant, which was first identified in South Africa, the University of Oxford, the original developer of the vaccine, said Sunday. The finding has prompted the pair to update their vaccine, dubbed AZD1222, to target variants of the coronavirus with mutations similar to B.1.351. In the meantime, South African authorities have halted rollout of the vaccine as they try to figure out the best way forward.
U.K. coronavirus variant spreading rapidly through United States, study finds
The coronavirus variant that shut down much of the United Kingdom is spreading rapidly across the United States, outcompeting other strains and doubling its prevalence among confirmed infections every week and a half, according to new research made public Sunday. The report, posted on the preprint server MedRxiv and not yet peer-reviewed or published in a journal, comes from a collaboration of many scientists and provides the first hard data to support a forecast issued last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed the variant becoming dominant in the United States by late March.
Covid-19: The E484K mutation and the risks it poses
What do we know about the E484K mutation? The E484K mutation is not a new variant in itself, it’s a mutation which occurs in different variants and has already been found in the South African (B.1.351) and Brazilian (B.1.1.28) variants. The mutation is in the spike protein and appears to have an impact on the body’s immune response and, possibly, vaccine efficacy. On 1 February, Public Health England (PHE) announced that the Covid-19 Genomics (COG-UK) consortium had identified this same E484K mutation in 11 samples carrying the UK variant B.1.1.7 (sometimes called the Kent variant), after analysing 214 159 sequences. Where has it been identified in the UK? PHE confirmed to The BMJ that they have now identified 11 cases of the UK B1.1.7 variant carrying the E484K mutation around the Bristol area and 40 cases of the original SARS-C0V-2 virus carrying the same E484K mutation in the Liverpool area. Public health officials are carrying out enhanced contact tracing, additional laboratory analysis, and testing in these areas. Is this mutation something to worry about? E484K is called an escape mutation because it helps the virus slip past the body’s immune defences. Ravindra Gupta at the University of Cambridge and colleagues have confirmed that the new B.1.1.7 plus E484K variant substantially increases the amount of serum antibody needed to prevent infection of cells.2 We already know that the B.1.1.7 variant is more transmissible so a combination of a faster spreading virus that is also better at evading immunity is worrying—if it isn’t stopped it would outcompete the older B.1.1.7 variant.