UNITED KINGDOM. - Back in the eye of the storm, said health officials in the United Kingdom, as they are hit with a third wave of COVID-19, which was a mutant strain of the virus. The strain was also found in other parts of Europe, like South Africa and Canada.
"It’s all a bit spooky," said Jim Van Steenkiste, who lives in West London. "I think as you see the numbers pick up and you see the numbers relative to the first wave back in the Spring. Now, we’re suppressing those peaks."
FOX 2’s Taryn Asher’s family, lives in West London. They’re originally from Southeast Michigan. Her brother-in-law, Jim, said his family is now in tier 4, which is total lockdown - except for essential reasons.
"It’s just as strict of a lockdown as it was back in the Spring," Jim said. "That’s where London sits now and it’s rolled across the country."
This is happening as vaccines were administered to 600,000 people there and counting.
"I think the big wave of rollout is coming in February," Jim said. "So, people are kind of seeing February as the light of the end of the sort of quarantine tunnel."
As of Monday, more than 20,000 people were hospitalized in the UK with COVID. 70% of those cases were estimated to be infected with the new strain. Hospital beds in the hardest hit areas of London, are full.
"As the hospital occupancy, it’s starting to really get scary," Jim said. "The infection rate is going up dramatically and that’s sort of pre-Christmas. So we’ve not really seen what socializing is going to do to those numbers."
It’s almost like the wave we’re riding here. Jim said there are ups and downs.
"My concern is, we’re going to play a game of chase with these strains, as they mutate and question mark is the vaccine, what is the efficacy rate of the new strain or the future new strains," He said.
Local doctors we spoke with said they’re optimistic about the current vaccine being given and its ability to handle the mutated virus. But, data is limited on the new strain right now.