As a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Adam Kucharsky has been so busy in recent weeks that he hasn’t watched much of the Premier League matches. “I used to work, unfortunately,” he says. Then again, as a football fan in England, he was unable to escape the drama surrounding his favorite game.
Earlier this month, even as the UK entered its third lockdown of the epidemic, government officials Special exemption granted to “elite” professional sports To complete. The results have not been good, especially on the field: half a dozen Premier League players He drew rebukes from their batons To attend festive parties. Viral videos showed crowded locker rooms, with an unmasked celebration Full Throat Songs. One outbreak of COVID-19 Aston Villa were forced to play for Liverpool on a roster of the Under-23 and Under-18 sideMany of them were brought down by their parents, because they were too young to drive.
Against the backdrop of the soaring number of cases and deaths, due in large part to a new and rapidly transmissible type of COVID-19, these poor-looking incidents have raised thorny questions across the pond. “It was clear that there were bubble systems with the NBA and other leagues – and in some cases that was very successful,” Kocharsky says. But this becomes more difficult with large amounts of community transmission. So these questions arise: What activities do we want to prioritize? … and I think some countries will soon have to make some very difficult decisions about what to keep open. “
In the United States, it was hoped that these issues would be left behind last summer, when the tournaments emerged from an early epidemic hibernation to resume playing in so-called bubbles; Instead, like the virus itself, it has grown in strength in recent times. After botched auditions, Brown lost two corner players and their coach Kevin Stefansky in a playoff match. The firm man lost his offensive line. The NBA, facing doomed lists, has postponed 13 matches between January 10-18. And in the NHL, Western Conference Champion, Stars, suffered an outbreak of 17 injured skaters at boot camp.
Badly though this may sound, the UK offers a realistic look at what may soon come in the US. In particular, the rapid global emergence of several contagious variants of COVID-19 – most notably the kind that wreaks havoc on British life – is expected to further threaten the United States’ slumping path toward herd immunity. Previously, Hospital systems are faltering again. New death records are set every day. Vaccine rollout has been insanely slow and epidemic fatigue, as evidenced by Tuscaloosa, may soon feel the consequences. A possible superspreader event It came to light when Alabama fans celebrated their sixth national college football title under Nick Saban. Until then, it might be the worst still Not yet come.
“It’s like you’re reading an exciting movie,” says Alessandro Vespiniani, director of the Institute for Network Science at Northeastern University, whose research focuses on modeling epidemics. We have published the vaccine. We could see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can put this disease in the history books. … Then we get this twisting of the plot and say, “This tunnel is a little longer, and getting to the end is more complicated.” “
Viruses change all the time. This was the first point that each of the eight medical experts consulted for this story emphasized. “That’s the important background, there are tons and tons of mutations,” says Shira Doron, a hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center. And they usually don’t change anything about the virus. They change the genetic code, but they don’t make the virus any different.
“In this case, it turns out that this genetic variant was outpacing the others in its prevalence and accidents, particularly around London. When you see that one of them is becoming more common than the others, you have to go: What is it?”
UK scientists first discovered in late September, the B117 strain of COVID-19 has since spread to about 50 countries, including the United States. It has been confirmed in 14 states as of Friday. It is characterized by a large number of mutations, including many of the barbed proteins that the virus uses to penetrate host cells, and this variant also has a significantly faster secondary attack rate. In other words: it spreads faster. “A lot of the data probably indicates a 40% to 50% increase in transmission,” says Kocharsky. “If it was really 50% higher … the current measures that were only about controlling what is traded will not be sufficient with this new variable.”
While this one type is not thought to increase anyone’s risk of severe disease, it will harm overall, with more cases steadily crowded into intensive care units and the death toll rising. Fortunately, scientists believe that the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will be effective against this alternative – but whether these vaccines are distributed in time to stop further losses is another matter. “This window is crucial,” says Kocharsky.
So far, research has shown no indication that this variant is transmitted by different means from the common coronavirus (which is largely transmitted via airborne droplets). But given that government funding for genomic testing for new mutations is so small – “a huge gap in our response to the pandemic,” Doron says – not much is known about why This one is more contagious. Or, for that matter, what it all means for the public health guidelines that we ask to follow. “Six feet might not be enough,” says Andrew Reed, an evolutionary microbiologist in Pennsylvania. “We do not know.”
One thing, though, seems almost certain: some highly contagious species will spread widely in the United States, soon. “It could be a disaster,” says Doron, “because it is on top of the post-holiday spike, plus every part of this country is in.” [infection] upswing, hospitals are very complete. … if you add anything at all, you are turning the healthcare system above its breaking point. “
And with professional sports being a microcosm of the country, it’s not hard to guess what the likes of NBA and NHL are likely in store as well. “I think we will find an alternative in these tournament systems,” says Amish Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University. This “increases the risks. Meaning: If you have a case of the new type in your seat, you are likely to get more cases.”
Until that happens, the same basic health and safety recommendations apply. “There is no reason to believe that precautions such as masks, handwashing and social distancing will have less of an effect,” says Nick Davis, another epidemiologist at LSHTM. “It just means that these procedures should be followed more strictly.”
If there are cracks in the defense, infectious variants are likely to exploit them. Not long ago, Tristan Thompson and Grant Williams of the Celtics went into quarantine After sharing a car without masks With fellow injured Robert Williams. None of the players contracted the virus, but next time he might not be very lucky.
“It doesn’t make sense for things to be outside the game” – like speaking face to face after a match or, for example, Partying without a mask, as Keri Irving was recently fined $ 50,000 for a Nets’ bouncer“It should be totally out of the question,” says Doron. “If people really want to play, they shouldn’t interact with anyone else at all. Go home, relax, and come back to the game. But if you’re when talking about contact sports, there’s no way to get rid of that risk. It can reduce.” The test is that. But when you are six feet away from people and touch people, there is no way. “
The possible consequences of another sharp viral wave. In the NBA, Raptors Move to Tampa; In the NHL, sharks are forced to A training camp held in Scottsdale, Arizona. But what if the regional lockdown widens? Each of those tournaments built a successful bubble before pledging not to return in 2021. How would they react if the choice was between another isolation or another suspension to play? What is the threshold for the scenario of breaking the glass? When is it no longer responsible to continue crossing the country to play the games?
For now, these tournaments are progressing. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email: “Monitor developments but nothing more at this point.” “The variable hasn’t caused us to alter our protocols up to this point.” Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association (NBA) tightened its rules last week, banning guests from entering hotels on the roads and restricting locker room meetings before the match to less than 10 minutes, among other new measures. “Through continuous consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and infectious disease specialists, we are taking measures to address the ongoing challenges of the epidemic, including new viral strains,” the Association’s Sports Medicine Director, John DeViori, emailed. (A NFL spokesperson referred to a recent emergence of the NFL by Chief Medical Officer Allen Sales, who said that the league is “screening for any new positive cases of genes that would reflect one of these new variants.”)
Many experts envision the constructive roles of these tournaments in fighting everything that comes next in this pandemic. The NBA partnered with Yale University researchers in a groundbreaking test of saliva during the qualifiers. Any of these tournaments could fill a similar gap by funding genetic testing. “I will not tell them Owns To do this, but the more people we have the sequence, ”says Adalja,“ the more likely it is to discover and understand new variants. ”At least, experts say, athletes and staff should set examples for the general public – which was not always the case. Citing “disturbing scenes,” a recent message from the Premier League leadership Remind the difference Players are prohibited from hugging or exchanging shirts with opponents. “No … you go to a nightclub amid a pandemic,” says Eli Gaunt, a virologist at the University of Edinburgh.
Perhaps, if everything crashes right, the sports leagues somehow get stuck during this bleak winter, clinging hard until all the players – and the rest of us – are finally vaccinated. Until we get to the end of that tunnel.
“Obviously we want sports, we want activities that provide entertainment and fun,” says Vespignani. “And I understand that for professional players – especially to play in an arena where there is no audience, and to stay in a bubble away from the family – it’s difficult. But these are difficulties we all face in different ways. Children don’t go to school. We work from home. So we all need it. To deal with that for a few more months and be very strict with the rules.
“It’s like football. We’re in the red. You want to keep pushing. This is not the right moment to think about relaxing or celebrating victory. We need to cross the line.”
“Професійний вирішувач проблем. Тонко чарівний любитель бекону. Геймер. Завзятий алкогольний ботанік. Музичний трейлер”