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New Highly Contagious Strain of Coronavirus Reported in Europe

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The World Health Organization (W.H.O) last week warned that a new variant of the coronavirus was spreading in the UK. The highly contagious strain has caused fresh panic with most countries in Europe barring travel in and out of Britain.

The new strain is considered 70 percent more transmissible than the Covid-19 and has already been detected in Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia and most recently, Italy.

Experts are optimistic that the new vaccines will work against the new strain due to the genetic similarity with the original Covid-19 virus.

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“There is a strong belief here that the vaccine, as it exists today … will have effectiveness in warding off infection from this new strain in England, in addition to the old strain that we’ve been contending with for months now,” said affiliate assistant professor from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Vin Gupta.

European countries only just started issuing out vaccines to citizens with Africa set to wait a bit longer before the vaccine is available. Challenges including delivery and distribution of the vaccine in the continent are cited as reasons why vaccinations will likely begin in mid 2021.

“Wealthier nations have bought up enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over by the end of 2021 if those currently in clinical trials are all approved for use,” the People’s Vaccine alliance said.

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“Canada tops the chart with enough vaccines to vaccinate each Canadian five times. Updated data shows that rich nations representing just 14 per cent of the world’s population have bought up 53 per cent of all the most promising vaccines so far.”

Catherine Kyobutungi, epidemiologist and executive director of the African Population and Health Research Center, cited “a lack of global solidarity” for the inaccessibility of the vaccine in Africa.

“We’ve seen reports about countries like the US and UK securing a huge share of vaccine doses, which then leaves you wondering, what about the rest of us?” she poses.

Read: Stop Panicking: 8 Myths About Coronavirus Debunked

As the new strain threatens to ravage the international community, the European countries have resorted to imposing more lock-downs and travel advisories despite the holidays.

President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted most of the measures imposed to curb the spread of the virus through a state address in November. Travel restrictions and lock-downs in affected areas were called off as the country started the path toward economic recovery.

However, the Covid-19 infection rate spiked since then resulting in the reduction of the number of people permitted in a public gathering to 50. The 10pm to 4am curfew persists while bars are still expected to close by 9pm.

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This December is devoid of its usual festive nature as people are highly encouraged to stay indoors. Normally, the city would be adorned with party goers raving late into the night.

This past Saturday, Sauti Sol had to cancel their sold out ‘sol concert’ owing to the high rate of infections. The concert had 3,000 confirmed guests.

2020 was the year many people lost their jobs. Most people will not make it to go upcountry, travel or engage in colourful festivities this year. Fares are high and buying new clothes and shoes for the children as is the norm is turning out to be an expensive affair.

Read also: How Coronavirus Outbreak Is Hurting Business In Kenya

Most corporate companies were not able to give employee bonuses this year due to low revenues. They also did not host staff end of year parties as they kept to social distancing rules. Others like Britam, are holding a virtual end of year party with employees converging on a single platform from their different locations.

Unlike other years, 2020 is ending on a low note with little hype, minimal travel, toned-down celebrations and reduced optimism regarding the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Written by Vanessa Murrey

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