New Covid variant could mean the return of lockdown, say experts

Experts have warned that a future variant of Covid 19 could defeat the immunity people get from either having had two doses of the vaccine, or from having previously been infected.

They are calling on the Government to publish a plan for what will happen if Covid starts to overcome the protection now granted by the jab.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) recently said the arrival of a variant that evades vaccines and natural immunity is a “realistic possibility”, reports the Guardian.

Sage member Prof Graham Medley said: “A new variant that was able to overcome immunity significantly would be essentially a new virus.”

He added: “The advantage would be that we know we can generate vaccines against this virus – and relatively quickly. The disadvantage is that we would be back to the same situation we were in a year ago.”

Dr Marc Baguelin, a member of the government’s SPI-M modelling group, said: “We would most likely be able to update the current vaccines to include the emerging strain.

“But doing so would take months and means that we might need to reimpose restrictions if there were a significant public health risk.”

Covid restrictions in England are to be eased further on Monday when isolation for people who have been in contact with someone who has Covid will be scrapped if they have had both jabs.

The Government wants to have offered everyone over 16 a first dose of a vaccine by August 23.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are committed to protecting the progress of the vaccine rollout and our world-leading genomics capabilities are at the forefront of global efforts to stay ahead of variants, with over half a million samples genome-sequenced so far.”

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