Matt Hancock announces trial of coronavirus booster vaccines
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The Yorkshire variant has spread across Leeds, linked to at least 49 cases – which may seem small, but its “strange combination of mutations” has led to concern. Dr Kev Smith, from Public Health England (PHE), said: “At the moment, we don’t think it’s more infectious than the other coronaviruses that we are seeing around.” However, the uprising variant shares similarities with more troubling strains.
Firstly, it may have the E484K mutation, which has been found in the South African variant – which can, in theory, lessen the effectiveness of vaccines.
Secondly, the Yorkshire Covid strain might have the N439K mutation, which has been associated with impacted immunity.
And thirdly, it could contain PH681H – another mutation seen in the highly transmissible Kent variant.
Dr Smith added: “So far the people that we have identified are not particularly infectious.
“They’re not really getting more sick than other cases of coronavirus and we’re not seeing anything particularly worrying about it.”
Professor Francois Balloux of University College London warned about the evolution of coronavirus.
“Eventually, there will likely be an emergence of ‘immune escape’ lineages,” he explained.
These could “reinfect hosts who have been previously infected or vaccinated”.
Thankfully, Professor Balloux thinks that the hosts “still benefit from their cellular immunity reducing symptom severity”.
Booster jabs “may be required” for the more vulnerable people in society, such as the elderly.
“Given the extraordinary surveillance in place and our ability to update vaccines promptly, this should be manageable,” he reassured.
The Director of Public Health in Sheffield, Greg Fell, can agree to this.
“We work very closely with NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England on these matters,” he said.
Fell confirmed that “all appropriate public health interventions” are implemented, including contact tracing and targeted testing.
“Where cases have been identified, additional follow-up of cases, testing of contacts and targeted case finding will be used to limit the spread of variants,” he said.
The fight against Covid
The Government reported that more than 37 million people have now had at least one Covid jab.
In addition, more than 21 million people are now fully vaccinated and protected from severe disease.
During the past week, the number of people dying from a Covid infection and the number of patients admitted to hospital has continued to decrease.
However, the number of people testing positive for coronavirus has increased by 6.1 percent in the past seven days.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson will update the nation on June 14 about the last reopening date of June 21, and whether or not it will go ahead.
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