UK Variant mutations show need for aggressive suppression of Covid-19

Alan Kelly TD
02 February 2021
  • UK sequencing shows B117 strain is acquiring a mutation found in the Brazilian and South African variants.

  • New strains have potential to reduce effectiveness of vaccines if not stopped.

  • Need to aim to get to Zero Covid

Labour Leader Alan Kelly has called on the government to act quickly to introduce a National Aggressive Suppression Strategy (NASS) as new research from the UK shows that the now dominant UK variant B117 is acquiring mutations that are the same as the Brazilian and South African strains with the potential to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines if not controlled.

Deputy Kelly said:

“We must do all we can to crush the spread of Covid-19 and ensure new strains that are evolving are kept out of Ireland. The main way to achieve that is aggressive suppression in the community to slow transmission, and a strong testing and quarantine system.

“The emerging research today from sequencing in the UK that shows the B117 strain of Covid-19 is picking up new mutations that are the same as those in the Brazilian and South African strains is deeply concerning. We can’t afford to have these new strains become dominant in Ireland. That’s why we need to aim to get to zero covid.

“Only with rigorous testing at arrival, and mandatory hotel quarantine can we reduce this threat. We need to aggressively discourage any unnecessary journeys into or out of the State. Stopping unnecessary travel is just one component of a NASS.

“We need to see mandatory hotel quarantine for everyone travelling into Ireland with PCR tests upon arrival and after 5 days. These new variants can come from anywhere, not just the country of origin. If we are serious about eradicating Covid-19 from our communities, quarantining of all arrivals must be mandatory.

“These mutations can also arise in the population here, so it is another reason why we need to rapidly get on top of community spread of the virus in Ireland. By isolating the virus in the specific communities that it exists, we can focus on aggressive testing and tracing. That will get the numbers down, keep the numbers down, and allow us to reopen our communities and economy in a sustainable way.

“Getting enough people vaccinated will eventually enable us to get on top of the virus, but there will always be a risk of new variants that the vaccine is less effective against if community spread remains high. That is why the Labour Party is calling for a National Aggressive Suppression Strategy.”

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