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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UK variant more contagious but not more deadly – Lancet study

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Mufid Majnun for Unsplash

Studies published in the renowned peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet have found no evidence that the so-called UK strain of Covid-19 is more deadly. However, they do confirm that it is more contagious. The B117 variant, to give it its official name, has now been detected in Thailand, originally found in a cluster of infections from Bangkok nightlife venues. It has been surging across Europe for some time already, having originally been identified in England last year.

Earlier studies had indicated that the B117 variant was linked to more serious illness and thought to be more deadly than other variants of Covid-19. However, according to the Bangkok Post, 2 new studies in The Lancet Infectious Diseases and The Lancet Public Health journals say the data does not support this. While the studies confirm that the B117 variant is more contagious, they found no evidence that infected patients experience worse symptoms or are at greater risk of developing long Covid – the term used to describe the often debilitating effects that can linger after the initial illness has passed.

In the first study, researchers examined data from 341 patients who tested positive for the virus late last year, when the B117 variant was highly prevalent in southeast England. 58% were found to be infected with the B117 variant, while 42% had a non-B117 variant. Of those infected with B117, 36% became seriously ill or died. Of those not infected with the variant, 38% became seriously ill or died. The study also found that those infected with the B117 variant tended to be younger and/or from ethnic minority groups.

Researchers also examined data from PCR testing to assess the variant’s transmissibility and found that B117 samples contained larger quantities of the virus than the original strain of Covid-19.

Experts from Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases say the latest findings contradict 3 earlier studies that suggested the B117 variant was more deadly. However, they point out that the Lancet study had the advantage of using whole-genome sequencing, a process of determining the entire DNA sequence of an organism’s genetic material. They add that while the studies looked at a variety of patient and disease outcomes, larger studies are needed in order to confirm the findings.

“The finding that lineage B117 infection did not confer increased risk of severe disease and mortality in this high-risk cohort is reassuring but requires further confirmation in larger studies.”

In a second study, researchers looked at data provided by 36,920 users of a Covid-19 symptom app, who were confirmed as infected between September 28 and December 27 last year. That study showed that the B117 variant reproduces 1.35 times faster than the original strain, but there was no indication it led to more severe illness or death.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    “These were not “studies by the Lancet”.

    They were independent studies published by the Lancet with the very clear caveat that they were not peer reviewed, not conclusive, and only looked at a very small number of patients in one hospital with Covid who were already hospitalised (341 cases), while the previous study looked at 2,245,263 Covid cases and 17,452 deaths, concluding that those with the B.1.1.7 strain were 50% more likely to die than those with other strains.

    As the Lancet pointed out, since the 341 patients were all already serious and hospitalised no conclusions could be drawn on the relative severity of strains or variants because it only looked at severe, hospitalised cases, not at the key figure of how many cases with the B.1.1.7 variant were serious, hospitalised or fatal compared to other variants.

    The studies didn’t say what the author / Bangkok Post / Straits Times / Bloomberg says, neither did the the Lancet.”

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket red zone list adds Krabi, Trang, Ranong, Phatthalung

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: The Phuket checkpoint now lists 25 provinces as a red zone.

Visitors to Phuket from Krabi, Trang, Ranong, and Phatthalung will now have to prove they’re vaccinated or have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, as they’ve been added to the red zone province list. People entering without those qualifications will have to take a rapid antigen test on the spot before being allowed into Phuket.

The 4 provinces join a group of 21 other provinces already on the Phuket red zone list requiring strict measures to enter. That list even includes Phuket itself, as people do exit the province have to prove a negative test or vaccination before being allowed to re-enter.

Phuket’s vice governor made the announcement yesterday after the governor signed the order and put it into effect until at least May 15th. That same order requires all trucks transporting goods to travel from 11 pm to 5 am, the nighttime hours that other people are not allowed to enter the island. Phuket recently closed its entry checkpoints from late night to early morning after reports of exhaustion from the health officials working to test everyone or verify their credentials.

Delivery drivers will also have to pass the same requirements as red zone province arrivals before entering Phuket. Any driver who does not have a negative test within 72 hours or proof that they’ve received both doses of a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration, will be forced to wait until the regular checkpoint opens at 5 am to receive a rapid antigen test.

Over 40,000 people from red zones have now been tested at the checkpoint to enter Phuket. In the first week of the requirement which began on April 22, health officials tested more than 22,000 people, overwhelming staff and prompting the government to close the entrance from 11 pm to 5 am to give checkpoint workers a break.

The 25 provinces currently classified as a red zone for entering Phuket are as follows:

Bangkok Nakhon Pathom Pathum Thani Rayong Suphan Buri
Chiang Mai Nakhon Ratchasima Phatthalung Sa Kaeo Surat Thani
Chonburi Nakhon Sri Thammarat Phuket Samut Prakan Tak
Khon Kaen Narathiwat Prachuap Khiri Khan Samut Sakhon Trang
Krabi Nonthaburi Ranong Songkhla Udon Thani

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

BMA admits Covid virus spreading fast in Bangkok, speeds up testing and jabs

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Stock photo via Flickr

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says it is speeding up mass Covid-19 testing and inoculations in communities hit strongly by the virus, after admitting the virus is spreading fast in Thailand’s capital.

The city clerk says the administration, along with the Public Health Ministry and other agencies, are speeding up the collection of nasal swabs for Covid-19 tests, with a plan to test 3,000 people in high-risk groups per day. Those people deemed to be at an increased risk of the virus have been clustered by districts, with testing units in each of the 6 districts…

Laksi district, 70 Pansa Min Buri park in Min Buri district, Huai Khwang stadium in Huai Khwang district, under the Rama III expressway in Yannawa district, a public park under Rama VIII bridge in Bang Phlad district and The Mall Bangkae shopping centre in Bang Kae district.

The virus has been found in densely populated, low-income areas such as the Klong Toey community in Klong Toey district, Bon Kai community in Pathumwan district and Ban Khing community and The Mall Bangkae in Bang Kae district. In an effort to help those residents stay at home to prevent the possible spreading of the coronavirus, community-level organisations are teaming up to provide food, water, and supplements to those in the areas.

But stay at home orders are a problem for many as starvation is more frightening than the virus and 90% of residents in the slum communities still need to leave for work each day to keep food on the table. The daily average income for those in the slums is around 120 to 150 baht. The CCSA yesterday declared that is is focusing on containing major Covid clusters in 3 key Bangkok communities – the Klong Toey ‘slums’, Bon Kai in Pathumwan and Ban Khing in the Bang Kae district, on the west side of the Chao Phraya.

Today’s nationwide Covid update includes compiling the regional totals from yesterday, with a total of 27 new Covid-related deaths and 2,044 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours. The numbers continue a statistically consistent rise in the number of Covid infections over the past 2 weeks.

Meanwhile, talking about Phuket’s plans to open in July, the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said yesterday that the number of new cases on the island must reach zero before the government can contemplate the ‘Sandbox’ plan for no-quarantine travel.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket visitor Covid-19 rapid antigen testing may end May 15

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Covid-19 rapid tests may be discontinued in Phuket. (via Wikimedia)

In a live broadcast, Phuket’s Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong said officials will consider discontinuing Covid-19 rapid antigen testing for people arriving into Phuket after May 15. The interview from the Phuket Check Point at Tha Chatchai yesterday seems to contradict a recent statement from the governor launching additional rapid testing from today.

Entry to Phuket since April 22 has been limited for travellers from red zone provinces, requiring proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours. Anyone arriving without either of these would be screened on the spot with rapid antigen tests. Though originally offered for 300 baht per person, controversy arose over Thailand’s 2-tier pricing as it was announced that testing would be free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

The National Health Security Office provided 40 billion baht for testing in Phuket, allowing free testing for nationals, but as that funding is used up, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew announced that the testing will no longer be free for Thai people after May 15. Phuket does not have the budget for free rapid antigen testing so they will likely be forced to require payment after that date.

The current testing has seen a decline in positive Covid-19 infections, not finding any new cases for several days, prompting the government to rethink whether the current system of rapid testing those who are not vaccinated or holding a recent negative test certificate is worth the money spent.

Over 40,000 people have been tested since the program began April 22 until the current figures on May 5, with only 22 covid infections identified. Furthermore, 5 of those infections turned out to be false positives.

The vice-governor conceded that Phuket has Covid-19 outbreak problems with growing infections every day, but explains that the infections are from within the community and not from outside visitors. The latest infections stem in large part from gambling get-togethers without proper Covid-19 safety.

As of now, the rapid antigen testing will continue until the May 15 cut off, but government officials are still debating whether to continue testing and whether funding will exist for it after that date.

The NHSO has recently hinted that they will approve more funds to continue testing, a signal that had not been received before the governor’s announcement on Wednesday about the rapid antigen testing.

The vice-governor stressed that the situation is constantly evolving and that new information it’s shared frequently, and often out of local control. He urges everyone to pay attention to forthcoming announcements.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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