If the Brexit is canceled on Christmas Day

Corona pandemic: how dangerous is the coronavirus mutation from England?

Millions of Britons had hoped for a few days with their loved ones. But what followed at the weekend was despair, sadness, chaos and disappointment. The British government let the so-called "Christmas bubble" burst at short notice.

It was only on Wednesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson scolded the opposition for wanting to cancel Christmas with their call for tougher restrictions. Now the head of government took over in another U-turn. On Saturday evening, Johnson tightened the lockdown, creating a mood of crisis on the island.

Coronavirus mutation in England: Boris Johnson cancels Christmas

Six days before the British traditionally celebrate Christmas on December 25th, "Christmas Day", the Conservative imposed a curfew on around 16.4 million people in London and south-east England. Since yesterday, Sunday, around a third of the population has only been allowed to leave their own home for important reasons, such as to go to the doctor.

 

Unlike in Germany, the British are no longer allowed to meet members of another household - not even during the holidays. Except for shops that sell essential products, everything is closed until further notice. There is also a travel ban for residents under the new Corona warning level 4. They are not allowed to leave their region. The headline was "Lost Xmas" Sunday Mirror yesterday based on the famous song "Last Christmas". In social networks, users wanted "Merry ChristMESS" - a play on the word "Mess" (chaos).

The drastic regulations caused tumultuous scenes at London train stations on Saturday evening when thousands of people tried to flee the metropolis with last-minute actions. Numerous people picked up their relatives by car from the capital during the night. London Mayor Sadiq Khan showed understanding for the shutdown. At the same time, he criticized the government, which a few days ago had adhered to the planned Christmas easing.

"It's the back and forth that leads to so much fear, despair, grief and disappointment," Khan said of the BBC. "If we keep changing our minds, it makes it really difficult for people like me to ask people to listen to us." For weeks, leading scientists and medical professionals in the country have been urging the prime minister to tighten restrictions and withdraw easing at Christmas, as the number of infections continues to rise worryingly. But Johnson remained stubborn, even under pressure from his own conservative party.

Coronavirus mutated: What is VUI2020 / 12/01?

Now the virus himself has forced him to turn back: the reason for the severe restrictions is a new variant of the corona virus called VUI2020 / 12/01, the prime minister said. He warned that this mutation is up to 70 percent more contagious than the known form and that it spreads rapidly, which is why many hospitals are already at their limit. "If the virus changes its method of attack, we will have to change our method of defense."

However, it is unclear how dangerous the virus variant is. The genetic makeup of the coronavirus is constantly changing, which in itself is not unusual. A mutation of the Sars-CoV-2 virus is already circulating in South Africa. The variant named 501.V2 was discovered during genetic examinations of samples from different provinces, said the local health minister Zweli Mkhize. In Denmark, a virus mutation in mink recently caused great uncertainty. Thousands of animals were then killed.

Nevertheless, the World Health Organization urges prudence. "We will keep Member States and the public informed as we learn more about the characteristics of this variant of the virus and its effects." It is advised to take protective measures to prevent the virus from spreading. The mutation has not changed the severity of the disease.

Karl Lauterbach warns of a corona vicious circle

At the same time, doctors are concerned about the significantly higher infection rate that the mutated virus brings with it. "It is very likely that mutations increase the risk of infection," said the SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach the editorial network Germany. "That is another reason why the second wave must not be so strong. The more infections you allow, the greater the likelihood that even more dangerous mutations will follow. This is a kind of vicious circle: more infections lead to more opportunities for mutations, and thus more to more mutations. These in turn lead to more infections. So it goes on and on. "

 

Andreas Bergthaler from the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna does not consider the development to be "insanely alarming". At the moment it is not known whether the observed changes change the properties of the pathogen significantly. It is conceivable, for example, that the current increased spread of this virus variant is ultimately a coincidence and goes back to a superspreading event.

According to initial analyzes by British scientists, the new variant has an unusually large number of genetic changes, especially in the spike protein. The virus needs this protein to enter cells. The vaccine used in Great Britain by the Mainz company Biontech generates an immune response against precisely this protein. Therefore, there are concerns that the vaccine may not work against the new variant. According to British Prime Minister Johnson, there is no evidence of this.

Germany cancels the flight connections to Great Britain

In Europe, meanwhile, there is concern that the mutated virus will spread. The Netherlands rushed ahead and therefore banned all flights to and from the UK. The ban on air travel with passengers from the United Kingdom will initially apply until January 1, the Dutch government announced. The Italian, Belgian and Austrian governments also want to suspend flight connections with Great Britain to prevent them being introduced. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even advocated an entry ban for passengers from Great Britain, Denmark and South Africa.

Germany followed suit early on Sunday evening: travel options between Germany and Great Britain and to South Africa will be restricted. A corresponding regulation is currently being worked out. The federal government is also in contact with the European partners. French President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, discussed the situation in a joint phone call at noon. You want to coordinate your approach. (with dpa)

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