Europe Issued 'High-Very High' Coronavirus Variant Risk Alert
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) issued its first update on January 21, 2021, regarding the spread of new SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in the EU/EEA.
'Based on the new information, the risk associated with the introduction and community spread of variants of concern has been increased to high - very high due to their increased transmissibility and the options for a response have been adjusted to the current situation,' stated the ECDC.
'The ECDC assesses the increased transmissibility is likely to lead to an increased number of infections. This, in turn, is likely to lead to higher hospitalization and death rates across all age groups and those with co-morbidities. To detect introductions of known variants, as well as the emergence of new variants, Member States need to increase the level of surveillance and sequencing of a representative sample of community COVID-19 cases.'
'It is important to use the available COVID-19 vaccines to protect those who are most vulnerable and for key workers against the currently circulating virus variants in the EU/EEA and hopefully also against one or all of the new variants of concern. Assessment of VOC 202012/01 suggests cross-immunity is present, while investigations into the other variants of concern are still on-going. Member States should monitor vaccine effectiveness for these new variants.'
In the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 144 cases of the SARS-CoV-2 betacornavirus B.1.1.7 lineage as of January 20, 2021. The states of California, Florida, and New York have reported the most variant cases.