纽约时报双语笔记:关于奥密克戎新变种的三个关键问题

关于奥密克戎新变种的三个关键问题
3 Questions We Must Answer About the Omicron Variant
ASHISH JHA
2021年11月29日
纽约时报双语笔记:关于奥密克戎新变种的三个关键问题

笔记导读

as information builds… 随着信息越来越多… 注意此表达,表示“越来越多”,可以使用build
fortuitous /fɔː’tjuːɪtəs/ 偶然的;幸运的;You can describe something as fortuitous if it happens, by chance, to be very successful or pleasant.

双语全文

Every few months, the world learns of a new variant of the coronavirus. While most of these variants turn out to be inconsequential, some, like the Delta variant, are immensely consequential. The latest, B.1.1.529, now known as the Omicron variant, bears very close watching because of concerns that it may spread more quickly than Delta, possibly even among the vaccinated. It is essential that world leaders respond quickly and aggressively even before all the data about this variant emerge.

每隔几个月,全世界就会发现一种新冠病毒的新变异。虽然大多数变异都危害不大,但有些变异毒株(比如德尔塔)却非常严重。如今被称为“奥密克戎”变异毒株的B.1.1.529最新变异值得密切关注,因为它可能比德尔塔传播得更快,甚至在已接种疫苗的人群中也可能如此。在关于这一变异的所有数据明朗之前,世界各国领导人必须迅速积极地做出反应。

In the days ahead, as information builds, it will be tempting to give in to fear or indifference. We cannot succumb to either. The global community must take each variant seriously. Acting early is far superior to waiting until all the facts are in. It may turn out that the variant is not more contagious or that it responds perfectly well to our current vaccines. In that latter fortuitous scenario, the current response may be seen as an overreaction. But if this variant, with all of its concerning features, turns out to be as contagious and immune-evasive as many experts worry it might be, waiting until all the facts are in will leave us hopelessly far behind.

在未来的日子里,随着信息越来越多,人们很容易陷入恐惧或冷漠。但我们不能被其压垮。国际社会必须严肃对待每一种变异毒株。尽早行动远好过等待掌握所有事实。最终有可能这种变异的传染性并没有更强,或是我们的现有疫苗能对其完全发挥作用。若情况属于后者,眼下的反应或许算得上过度。但如果真的像许多人担心的那样,这种变异具有传染性和免疫逃逸能力,那么等到明确所有事实之后,早就为时已晚了。

How worrisome is Omicron? There are three key questions that help scientists understand how consequential any variant might be.

我们该对奥密克戎有几分担忧?以下是帮助科学家了解所有病毒变异后果的三个关键问题。

The first question is whether the variant is more transmissible than the current, prevalent Delta strain. Second, does it cause more severe disease? And third, will it render our immune defenses — from vaccines and prior infections — less effective (a phenomenon known as immune escape)?

第一个问题是,这种变异是否比目前大肆传播的德尔塔毒株更具传染性。第二个问题,这种变异是否会导致更严重的疾病?第三个问题,它会使我们由疫苗和此前的感染打造的免疫防御系统变得不那么有效吗?(这种现象被称为免疫逃逸。)

On transmissibility, the data, while early, look worrisome. This new variant appears to have taken off very quickly in South Africa, with early national data suggesting the variant already makes up the majority of sequenced cases in the country. It’s possible that this early data will be revised as epidemiologists look closer at factors other than transmissibility, such as whether an early Omicron superspreader event led to the variant appearing more highly contagious than it really is. While this is possible, the more likely scenario is that Omicron does spread more easily than Delta.

关于传染性的数据虽然还处于早期阶段,但看来足以令人担忧。这种新变异似乎在南非迅速扩散,早期官方数据表明,该变异占到了南非测序病例的绝大多数。随着流行病学家更仔细地研究除传染性之外的因素——比如早期某一奥密克戎超级传播事件是否导致该变异看起来比实际情况更具传染性——这一早期数据可能会被修正。虽然有这样的可能,但更可能的情况是,奥密克戎的传染性确实比德尔塔更强。

Because the variant is so new, scientists simply do not have adequate data yet to assess whether the new variant causes more severe disease. Answering this question will require careful case tracking in hospitals along with expanded viral sequencing efforts, both in South Africa and elsewhere. A key part of this analysis is ensuring that countries are doing adequate testing of a broad sample of people. It will most likely take weeks to sort this out.

因为这种变异才刚出现,科学家们还没有足够的数据来评估它是否会导致更严重的疾病。要回答这个问题,就得在南非和其他国家密切追踪医院病例,同时扩大病毒测序工作。这类分析的一个关键在于,要确保各国对广泛人群样本进行充分检测。这很可能需要几周时间才能完成。

Finally, the big concern with Omicron is immune escape. Let’s be clear: It is extremely unlikely that Omicron will render the Covid-19 vaccines completely ineffective. And right now, there’s not much data on how much the vaccines may be less effective against this variant, although there is reason for concern. Omicron has a large number of mutations, including in the spike protein — the part of the protein that the virus uses to bind to and enter human cells. These areas of the protein are critical for vaccine-induced (and infection-induced) antibodies to protect against the virus. Even small hits to vaccine efficacy will leave us more vulnerable to infection and illness and can make it harder to contain the virus.

最后,奥密克戎最令人担忧的地方就是免疫逃逸。需要明确的是:奥密克戎不太可能让新冠疫苗完全失效。虽然人们有理由表示担忧,但目前还没有太多数据表明疫苗对这种变异的有效性会降低多少。奥密克戎包含大量突变,包括刺突蛋白突变,病毒会用刺突蛋白进行结合,并入侵人体细胞。这些蛋白质区域对于疫苗产生(以及感染产生)的病毒抗体来说至关重要。哪怕是对疫苗功效的微小打击,也会导致我们更容易受到感染和疾病的影响,并可能让遏制病毒传播变得更加困难。

The Biden administration just announced a travel ban against foreign nationals coming from eight African countries. This will slow the spread of the virus into the United States by a modest amount at best. And it sends a negative signal to South Africa, which has done an extraordinary job in first identifying the variant and then quickly sharing the information with the global community. Whether the travel ban will be worth it or not is far from clear.

拜登政府刚刚宣布对来自八个非洲国家的外国公民实行旅行禁令。这最多只能让病毒传到美国的速度减慢一点。这一禁令也向南非发出了消极的信号,南非首先识别出了变异,随后迅速与国际社会分享了信息,已经做得非常出色。这样的旅行禁令是否值得,目前还远不能明确。

But there are things the Biden administration can do to prepare the country.

但拜登政府可以颁布一些举措来让美国做好准备。

The United States must support ongoing studies that help researchers answer the key questions about how transmissible the variant is, whether it causes more severe disease and whether it can evade immunity. This will give health authorities a more complete picture as quickly as possible.

美国必须支持正在进行的研究,帮助研究人员回答有关该变异的传染性、它是否会导致更严重的疾病以及它能否逃避免疫的关键问题。这将使卫生当局尽快了解更全面的情况。

Second, the United States must ramp up genomic surveillance — monitoring viral genes and how they evolve over time — to identify Omicron when it arrives and track it as it potentially spreads through the country. The United States has been a surprising laggard on genomic sequencing and must do better.

其次,美国必须加强基因组监测——监测病毒基因以及它们如何随时间进化——以便及时识别出奥密克戎变异,并在可能出现全国传播时进行追踪。美国在基因组测序方面的落后令人惊讶,必须得做得更好才行。

American leaders should also start talking with vaccine makers about the potential need to create Omicron-specific vaccines. It may not be needed, but if there is a large hit to vaccine efficacy then new vaccine shots will be critical.

美国的领导者也应该着手与疫苗生产商讨论开发奥密克戎特效疫苗的潜在需求。这或许派不上用场,但如果疫苗有效性大受影响,那新疫苗的接种将是至关重要的。

Lastly, America must push for a global effort to get more people in Africa vaccinated. While global vaccinations have been rising quickly, much of the African continent has been left behind. In South Africa, just under a quarter of the population has been fully vaccinated.

最后,美国必须推动全球努力让更多的非洲民众接种疫苗。尽管全球疫苗接种量迅速攀升,但非洲大陆的大部分地区却落在了后面。南非只有不到四分之一的人口完全接种了疫苗。

It has been a long pandemic thus far, but let’s remember that this is not a reset to March of last year — the world has the means to manage this variant. Let’s use them.

这场疫情已经持续了很久,但我们要记住,这不是去年3月的重演——世界有办法应对这种变异。让我们行动起来吧。

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