Some key bits from latest PHE report on Covid variants currently under surveillance in England.

TLDR: v low levels of everything apart from our Kent strain (B117) but S. African & Brazilian strains spreading.

Full report:… 1/10
Variants with the "Eek" mutation (E484K) are of particular concern since this mutation is thought to help covid evade antibodies so that it can more easily infect people who have had covid already or (potentially) the vaccine.… 2/10
Two variants with this mutation (the Bristol strain which is our Kent variant+E484K, and the Brazilian P2) are *not* spreading, but four variants with this mutation *are*. 3/10
Although the estimates for B1525 & B11318 look like they are decreasing, geographically both look to be stable or increasing in London and Yorkshire but contained elsewhere. (Most recent dates might well be underestimates)

Both SA (B1351) & Brazil (P1) are mainly in London. 4/10
Looking by *mutation* rather than strain, we can see there are three mutations gaining ground - most prominent is the E484K (Eek) mutation.

L452R is present in the new Indian strain which seems to be spreading fast there:… 5/10
So, overall, some key & concerning mutations are gaining ground in England. They are still a *very* small proportion of overall cases, but, especially as we open up, they could still become dominant.

eg our Kent strain went from 0.3% to 93% of cases in Denmark in 4 months. 6/10
Pfizer seems to work very well against Brazil & SA strains…

Moderna is very similar to Pfizer and so should have similar efficacy (it's approved and arrives here later this month). 7/10
AZ vax works less well against S. African strain for preventing mild illness - but the hope & expectation is that it would still protect against severe illness & death.

(AZ is brilliant against our dominant Kent strain - so if offered take it!) 8/10…
Novovax vaccine - hopefully approved in UK soonish - is very effective against our Kent strain but less effective against S African. BUT it does seem good at preventing severe disease against S. African strain (also raising hopes that AZ will be too).… 9/10
Worry is if these strains keep spreading they might mutate further to become better at evading vaccines (bad).

So we need v. rapid vax, excellent sequencing & contact tracing, & careful opening! We DON'T want lots of spread!

Variant numbers still low -> we can do this! /END

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More from @chrischirp

1 Apr
The latest @ONS infection survey includes breakdown by age for all home nations.…

We're seeing two different epidemics by age (thx to @dgurdasani1 for phrase).

(expand gif to see corresponding dates and whole thing) 1/4
The increase in younger children after schools go back is very obvious in Scotland (after 22 Feb) and in England (after 8 March) while decrease in older ages continues.

So vaccination & restrictions offsetting opening of schools - this is good! BUT 2/4
With the release of latest long covid estimates from ONS infection survey today as well, I still don't think we should be complacent about lots of younger people reporting long covid (10%-13%).… 3/4
Read 5 tweets
31 Mar
Was briefly on @BBCOne News @ 6 last night discussing the (excellent) findings from the ONS Covid antibody survey that came out yesterday.

Clip is here but a couple of things to add:
Having so many people with antibodies is great news and will help keep cases (and severe illness) down, but we still have millions without antibodies.

Israel is showing that opening up with high vax, masks, social distancing, test & trace keeps cases going down sharply.
Antibodies declining in older people as they approach many weeks from first dose. Does *not* mean they are no longer protected but it does mean we need to concentrate on giving people their 2nd doses. Strong case for shorter interval for very vulnerable.…
Read 7 tweets
26 Mar
THREAD on concerning variants in England:

Some signs that they are spreading - slowly and from very low numbers - but spreading nonetheless.

Why I think this and what it means - let's dive in: 1/13
The Kent strain (B117) has been over 90% of cases in England since mid-Jan. It is 30-50% more transmissible than the old Covid strain and so came to dominate over about 2 months.

All existing vaccines work brilliantly against B117. 2/13
Vaccines work less well against some other Covid strains.

Particularly concerning are the South Africa (B1351) and Brazil (P1) strains.

Public Health England is tracking these (& similar) variants and doing surge testing to try to contain them.… 3/13
Read 14 tweets
24 Mar
I've been looking at latest English data by age.

Cases in school age children are definitely going up while other age groups are flat or falling (slowly).

Some of this increase is undoubtedly because of mass lateral flow device testing rolled out to schools. But NOT all. 1/7
*Primary* school age kids are *not* getting routinely tested - tests are still symptom based. We see little change in cases week of 8th March but we start seeing quite rapid increase 14th March onwards.

This is consistent with increased spread since schools opened. 2/7
*Secondary* school age cases started going up around 8 March - when mass testing started.

But if it was *only* mass testing, then you'd expect cases to flatten the next week (15th March onwards), as similar number of LFDs done both weeks.

But cases keep going up. 3/7
Read 7 tweets
22 Mar
THREAD: Boris Johnson is basically talking bollocks about the 3rd wave in Europe inevitably coming here and he must know it.

It's cynical opportunism to blame any resurgence in England on the European wave. It is frankly absurd. Here's why: 1/6…
The Europe wave is not coming here *because we've already have it*.

Instead, it's taken two months for our "Kent" strain (B117) to spread across the EU and start a new wave there. OLD restrictions work on the OLD strain but NOT Kent. So cases go up as soon it is dominant. 2/6
If cases start steadily going up here it will be for one of two reasons (or both!):

1) As we found out in Dec, OLD mitigations don't work on B117. But opening up with OLD mitigations relying on vaccination to help keep cases down & chaotic mass testing (esp schools). 3/6
Read 7 tweets
20 Mar
Many headlines today about Europe's third wave, what it means for us and, in particular, international travel.…

Some thoughts about what it means... 1/11
Firstly, the current increases in Europe are because B117 (the Kent strain) has become dominant there - move than 70% in Denmark, NL, 50-70% in France, Belgium, Itlay, Germany & Austria. 2/11
As with us in Dec, they didn't act decisively to stop its spread - instead they've been in semi-restrictions (similar to our tier 3) - enough to bring *down* cases of old variant but not enough to stop B117.

B117 was only 5-10% in EU early Feb 3/11
Read 12 tweets

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