Over-50s will be offered a third Covid vaccine dose before winter, in part to tackle new variants. But according to the Head of the Covid Genomics U.K. Consortium (COG-UK), there is currently “no hint” of a variant that can fully evade the effectiveness of vaccines. If anything, future variants could be less infectious. The Express and Star has the story.
Sharon Peacock, Head of COG-UK and Professor of Public Health and Microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said it could be the case that coronavirus mutates to become less infectious, though she warned it could take years for it to become like the common cold.
Asked whether a variant will emerge somewhere across the globe that is resistant to current vaccines, Professor Peacock told Times Radio: “That’s what we’d call it, a variant of major concern. We haven’t seen anything like that to date, and the question you’re asking is the million dollar question in many ways, everybody wants to know what’s the likelihood and when is it likely to occur, if at all.
“What we don’t know is if it is likely to occur. We know that as mutations accumulate in the virus, it can actually make it more fit in terms of avoiding our immune system, but the more mutations it accumulates, it could actually lead to a virus that is less infectious, for example.
“So there’s a trade-off for the virus in terms of how many mutations it can tolerate.
“Now, some people have predicted that a virus could emerge that is pretty resistant to vaccines, but we haven’t seen any hint of that at the moment.
“And the idea that this could arise is based on models from previous viruses, not this current one, so at the moment, I remain optimistic that we’re in a good place – that the viruses that are circulating are susceptible to vaccinations.”
Despite the continual fall of Covid cases and deaths, and the success of the vaccine rollout, the Government and media narrative around the virus continues to be fairly pessimistic – largely due to the perceived threat of variants. Imperial College’s Danny Altmann said last month that the Indian Covid variant could “scupper” Britain’s “roadmap” out of lockdown – a statement which a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation criticised as “pessimistic“. Professor Neil Ferguson also believes that life in Britain will “not [be] completely back to normal” by summer because of Covid variants, despite advisers to SAGE saying last week that Pfizer’s vaccine does protect well against the South African variant after people have had both doses.
The Express and Star report is worth reading in full.