• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

“It’s really important that we get as much information as we can as quickly as possible”

Apr 18, 2021

A leading epidemiologist says it is crucial that British scientists urgently learn as much as they can about the Indian Covid-19 variant to assess what action needs to be taken to restrict its transmission.
Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) group which provides infectious disease modelling evidence on coronavirus to the Governments Sage committee, says it is not surprising the new variant has emerged but that it needs to be thoroughly investigated as soon as possible.
I would always say when these new variants do emerge it is a concern and its really important that we get as much information as we can as quickly as possible, Dr Tildesley, from the University of Warwick, told BBC News.
Whats concerning about the Indian variant is there appear to be two mutations which may make the vaccines less effective, and may make the virus more transmissible.
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The key thing here is may. We are still trying to gather evidence about this.
Dr Tildesley said the emergence of new Covid variants was not surprising, but that action to combat local clusters as they appear may be necessary.
Its not surprising that new variants emerge. Theyre emerging all the time, he said.
But as we get more information, if we do get evidence that they are evading the vaccine and they are more transmissible, what we need to do is take action to really suppress those.
It may be that surge testing is needed to stamp down on local clusters of infection if we do get evidence that this is a real variant of concern.
Dr Tildesley said it was likely in future that vaccines would be adjusted to address mutations, much like flu vaccines are changed most years.
Every time you have a (flu) vaccine its not the same one you have every year. It will be tweaked to combat whatever happens to be circulating at the time, he said.
Were not quite there yet of course with Covid vaccines that can be tweaked to protect against new variants, but my understanding is the vaccine companies are working on this, and in the longer term we should be able to provide boosters to people to protect against whatever new variants are circulating.