UK & “DELTA PLUS Late last week, the UK Health Security Agency released its 25th Technical Briefing on SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation. Data on a new sublineage of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant—newly designated as AY4.2 and sometimes called “Delta Plus”—show incidence has been expanding within the country, accounting for 6% of all samples sequenced. Health officials expect this proportion to increase in the coming weeks, and many in the public health community are watching the sublineage to see how it impacts the COVID-19 epidemiological situation. The UK recently has experienced a drastic increase in new COVID-19 cases, reporting a daily average of 45,461 new cases on October 20, up more than 12,000 cases from 2 weeks ago. Additionally, the number of daily deaths are rising. Reports suggest that an increase in cases among children has been fueling this most recent spike, especially as this age group returned to schools. Notably, vaccine uptake has lagged since early September, although there has been an uptick in average daily vaccinations over the past several days. The UK has a higher vaccination rate than some of its European counterparts, with 79% of the eligible population fully vaccinated.

Public health experts are pleading with the UK government to reinstate COVID-19 restrictions that were rolled back this summer in order to avoid reaching a critical point where the virus becomes much more difficult to contain. The government has pushed back on these calls, saying the UK will not go back to a lockdown scenario and that people should “learn to live with this virus.” In September, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a “Plan B” for the country, to be implemented if the National Health Service (NHS) becomes overwhelmed. The plan includes reimplementing some restrictions like mask mandates and vaccine passports but would work to keep major operations running. Others are calling for a “Plan B Plus” that would go a few steps further and include urging people to get vaccinated or get boosters, using the healthcare system wisely, and volunteering to support frontline workers. 

BRAZIL A parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI) in Brazil is recommending that President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with 9 serious offenses—including charlatanism, incitement to commit crimes, the propagation of pathogenic germs, and crimes against humanity—for allegedly intentionally allowing the COVID-19 pandemic to spread unabated through the country and killing hundreds of thousands of people, according to a 1,180-page final draft of its report. The commission’s senators are scheduled to vote on the final report on October 26, and if approved, the accusation of crimes against humanity will be referred to the International Criminal Court for further investigation. The document also recommends criminal charges for at least 65 other people, including current and former government officials and 3 of President Bolsonaro’s sons. While it is unclear whether the accusations will lead to criminal charges, the report could prove damaging to President Bolsonaro’s reelection campaign. President Bolsonaro, a self-confessed vaccine skeptic, pushed unproven treatments, discouraged mask-wearing and encouraged mass gatherings as COVID-19 incidence increased nationwide. Of the 11-member committee, 7 are members of the opposition, suggesting the report will be approved.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids is coming; here are 6 things to know

(J. Harris: This is a good DMN general article that is readable and informative.)



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