Virologist explains why the Kent Covid variant is likely to 'sweep the world'

11 February 2021, 15:07

By Sam Sholli

This is the moment a top virologist broke down why the variant of Covid-19 first found in Kent is going to "sweep the world".

Professor Greg Towers, an expert in molecular virology at University College London, was responding to Professor Sharon Peacock from the Covid-19 Genomics UK (Cog-UK) Consortium saying the variant is "going to sweep the world, in all probability".

The Kent variant, which has been detected across Britain and in more than countries, will become the world's dominant strain, according to Professor Peacock.

Asked by LBC's Tom Swarbrick whether he thinks the Kent variant is going to "sweep the world", Professor Towers responded: "Yes, absolutely. I mean it could.

"There are other variants that also appear to be more transmissible, [such as] the South African variant [and] more variants will emerge."

Asked why by Tom why the Kent variant was "going to spread across the globe", Professor Towers replied: "This is a new virus [and] it is slowly adapting more to humans. So it's becoming more transmissible.

"This particular variant, which appears to have evolved in the UK, seems to be particularly good at transmitting and therefore it's getting an advantage over the other isolates."

He added: "It seems that the spike protein is changing and that basically makes it work better and makes it slightly less sensitive to immune responses from the first wave."

Despite data suggesting the mutant variant may be more deadly, there is no evidence to indicate existing treatments, such as dexamethasone, will not be effective against it.

A study has suggested that people infected with the UK variant are less likely to report a loss of taste and smell.

There are now four "variants of concern" of the virus that causes Covid-19 identified by government advisers, three of these have been found in the UK, and the fourth is the Brazil variant identified in people who had travelled to Japan.