Second Strain Of Covid-19 'Worse Than The First', PM Concedes Virus 'Won't Be Eradicated'
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confessed the virus will not be totally eradicated as researchers reveal the second strain of Covid-19 will be worse than the first.
Speaking to News Corp, Morrison explained we will see cases in a number of workplaces once restrictions lift and people return to work.
“When we get back to what I’d call a ‘COVID-safe Australia’, which is what we’re aiming to get back to -- when a lot of the restrictions will be able to be pared away -- there will still be cases," the Prime Minister said.
“I mean, it won’t be eradicated. There will still be outbreaks."
However, Morrison explained the overarching goal isn't to reach zero cases, which "is not a practical expectation", but to keep it at a level that can be maintained.
He said the plan is to ensure people can be isolated if they contract it so the health system can cope with the number of cases.
“That way we can get the economy open and we can stay on top of the coronavirus," Morrison said.
The Prime Minister's comments come as a leading group of researchers found the virus has mutated into a second train which appears to spread faster and wider than the original one.
The second strain of Covid-19 appeared to have initially emerged in either Europe or China in January after the first strain emerged.
According to the researchers, the new strain (or G-strain) is already dominant in Australia, ABC News reports.
When questioned about the G-strain on Wednesday, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said new strains of the virus are not unexpected.
"Whether they are more transmissible or not that is a typical thing that happens to this type of virus that is spread from animals to become transmissible between humans," he said.
"It does become generally more transmissible over time and less severe over time."
As part of the research, scientists looked at the viral genomes of about 6,000 people infected with the deadly disease. They found the virus had evolved.
"I would say [coronavirus] is acquiring mutations that provide a fitness advantage sooner than we expected," David Montefiori, one of the study authors, said.
Montefiori, who is also the director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research at Duke University medical centre in North Carolina, said if it weren't for mutation the world may be further ahead in the fight to beat Covid-19.
"An open question is whether the social-distancing measures would have been even more effective if this variant never existed," he said.
However, other academics are not convinced by the research because it is yet to be peer-reviewed.
Speaking to ABC News, University of Sydney viral evolution expert Edward Holmes said he is "skeptical".
"Will it impact anything important about how we respond to the virus? That's unclear," he said.
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While researchers behind the study claim a lot of work is going into the test in order to determine how the new strains might influence the effectiveness of vaccines.
"Will the vaccines be less effective against the new form and need to be modified to be equally effective against both forms? We and others are working hard to answer this question as quickly as possible," Montefiori said.
The study also suggests people who have already been infected with the first strain were susceptible to the new strain.