Sage expert sets out details of the new coronavirus variant

21 December 2020, 14:25

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A Sage member has told LBC while the new strain of Covid-19 is more infectious it does not appear there is more risk of developing severe symptoms and being hospitalised.

After the UK was cut off from large parts of Europe - and some other areas of the world - as authorities imposed bans on passengers because of concern about the more infectious strain of coronavirus LBC spoke to an expert.

READ MORE: Chaos as France closes border due to new Covid strain

LIVE: Latest developments as Europe closes doors to UK

Dr Mike Tildesley an Associate Professor of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, and member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling Group, a sub-group of SAGE was speaking to Nick Ferrari.

Nick asked the expert if the new strain was "more life-threatening" than the previous strain.

Dr Mike said the answer was complex but said while it was "more infectious," meaning "you're more likely to infect more people."

READ MORE: NERVTAG member tells LBC he 'doesn't see logic' of Tier 4 for London and South East

However, the professor said it doesn't appear that you are at any more risk of developing severe symptoms and being hospitalised.

Is the new variant something unusual?

There have been many mutations in the virus since it emerged in 2019.

This is to be expected - SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus and these viruses mutate and change.

Will vaccines still work?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the latest clinical advice is that it is highly unlikely that this mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine.

The vaccine produces antibodies against many regions in the spike protein, and it is unlikely a single change would make the vaccine less effective.

However, this could happen over time as more mutations occur, as is the case every year with flu.

Public Health England said this new variant includes a mutation in the spike protein and that changes in this part of the spike protein may result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people.

Concerns about the spread of the new variant has led to the dramatic scaling back of Christmas plans, with mixing banned in Tier 4 areas and the three-household provision being allowed for just Christmas Day in the rest of England.

Boris Johnson said the new variant was up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain, while Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted it was "out of control" and the Tier 4 lockdown may have to remain in place for months.

More Nick Ferrari

See more More Nick Ferrari

Exclusive
Mr Malthouse denied the breach of Covid regulations.

'No regulations broken' over Downing Street party Covid claims, Malthouse tells LBC

The Met Commissioner said it “pains me horribly” when she thinks of the teenagers killed by knife crime

Knife crime 'a stain on our city' says Met chief as deaths near 5 year high

Exclusive
Dame Cressida Dick spoke to Nick Ferrari on Call the Commissioner at Breakfast.

Met chief 'doesn't accept' failure as poll reveals only half of Londoners trust the force

Call the Commissioner watch again

Call the Commissioner | Watch Again

The Science Minister was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari

'Government not trying to tell public who they should kiss or where', minister says

Wes Streeting teased Sajid Javid about when he will get booster jab

Wes Streeting 'can't jump the queue' for Covid booster, Sajid Javid jokes

The Health Secretary was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari

Sajid Javid denies Boris Johnson broke Covid rules with No 10 Christmas party

Sajid Javid told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast people don't need to cancel Christmas plans.

'No need to change Christmas plans' despite Omicron fears, says Sajid Javid

The Shadow Health Secretary was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari

Wes Streeting: Government 'falling well short' of half a million daily booster jabs

The JCVI member was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari

JCVI Member: Medics are 'keeping their fingers crossed' booster jabs will deal with Omicron

The care minister has urged everyone to get their jab in time for Christmas

'All we want for Christmas is for everyone to get jabbed', says care minister

Ian Maxwell was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari

Watch in full: Nick Ferrari speaks to Ghislaine Maxwell's brother ahead of trial

The sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell is set to begin in New York today

Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother says Prince Andrew was 'cancelled' on 'dubious grounds'

The UK wants to step up cooperation with France, a minister has said.

'Not just a British problem': UK ready to send ground support to France, minister says

Dominic Raab has dismissed claims Boris Johnson has been the subject of a number of no confidence letters

Raab dismisses PM no confidence letters as 'tittle tattle' as party rating plummets

Dominic Raab defended Harper's Law

Raab: Harper’s Law isn’t blurring lines between murder and manslaughter