In a report released on Monday, Elisha Are and Caroline Colijn looked at the exponential growth of the virus linked to the strain. The B117 strain has been confirmed in six COVID-19 cases in British Columbia. The province has also reported three cases of the South African variant, B1351.
The U.K. variant is believed to be at least 40 per cent more transmissible to the common strain of the virus.
“In most of Canada we have been able to control COVID-19 — at least, the variant(s) we have today — albeit with strong distancing measures,” the report reads.
The researchers designed a model to project what spread of the variant would look like under the current COVID-19 controls. The data shows by the mid-March more than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases a day.
In this modelling, the control measures currently in place continue indefinitely. The researchers acknowledge that is not realistic but does serve to illustrate the impact of a higher-transmission variant even if we keep doing the things we are currently doing.
“The punch line is that failure to prevent or contain this now spells disaster in March,” the report reads.
“While we don’t see much impact for ~six weeks, when it comes it comes steeply, with a doubling time of one to two weeks, compared to doubling times like 30 to 40 days recently in provinces like Ontario. Exponential growth is fast – when you’re halfway to the maximum capacity you can tolerate (in hospitalization, ICU, contact tracing capacity, or wherever the bottlenecks are), you only have one doubling time left.”
The researchers are calling on both federal and provincial government to put in tighter measures to prevent the new variant from getting a hold in the country. This would include tighter rules on travel as well as define essential travel and stop non-essential travel.
The pair is also suggesting the federal government should step up quarantine and isolation of travellers and improve detection of the virus for those arriving in Canada.
Scientists around the world believe the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the UK variant.
“If and when we find out that COVID-19 vaccines can impact transmission — and we think it is likely that they will — we could use vaccination as one of the tools in the transmission toolkit, for example by vaccinating truckers who need to cross the Canada/US border,” the report reads.View link »