Vietnam’s Rapid Response to Variant

Confronted with a highly transmissible new variant, Vietnam is deploying aggressive measures including plans to test all 9 million residents of Ho Chi Minh City and a 2-week lockdown for the city.
 
The country enjoyed early success in quashing COVID-19 last year—holding the line to 3,100 cases and 35 deaths by last May, The Washington Post reports. But cases began increasingly sharply in recent weeks—with more than 3,5000 new infections and 12 deaths. Takeaways: 

  • Police have filed charges against leaders of the Revival Ekklesia Mission in Ho Chi Minh City for violating health protocols. More than 140 cases were tied to the Protestant church after members met and sang together.
  • Genetic sequencing revealed the variant is “an Indian variant with mutations that originally belong to the U.K. variant,” according to VNEexpress.
  • Testing everyone in Ho Chi Minh City will take time: The government can only handle 100,000 tests per day, according to state media via the AP.
  • The country may be mounting a fast, strong response because only about 1 million of its 96 million citizens are vaccinated.

A Variant by Any Other Name: The WHO announced yesterday that SARS-CoV-2 variants will be named with letters from the Greek alphabet, STAT reports.

  • Good-bye, B.1.1.7 (first discovered in the UK). Hello, Alpha.
  • B.1.351 (first documented in South Africa) will be known as Beta.
  • P.1 (Brazil) is Gamma.
  • B.1.671.2 (Indian) is Delta.

The idea is to remove the stigma of attaching country names and the complexity of multi-letter and numeral designations.

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