LEIPZIG, Germany: New variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that emerged in the UK and South Africa in 2020 show higher transmissibility. And whereas they are thought not to result in more serious disease or increased morbidity, a leading US expert on public health policy has emphasised that the higher rates of infection resulting from the new strains will mean more deaths. Scientists are scrambling to understand the new variants, and they are concerned that the mutations present in the South African strain may pose complications for the efficacy of vaccines and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
LONDON, UK: The UK has become the first country in the world to approve a clinically tested COVID-19 vaccine after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use. The vaccine is set to be rolled out from next week onwards, and elderly people and NHS staff are to be prioritised—although details on how dental professionals, for example, fit into this plan are yet to be finalised.