11 March 2021

Coronavirus needs to stay contained and we have to be vigilant, says expert

11 March 2021

The coronavirus situation in the UK is quite “contained” but we have to be “vigilant” and make sure it stays under control, an expert has said.

Professor Sharon Peacock director of the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium (Cog-UK), said the virus may be behaving in a similar way around the world, but no one knows what might happen in the future.

However, she anticipates that Covid-19 vaccines will be able to cope with changes to the virus.

HEALTH Coronavirus (PA Graphics)

Speaking at a webinar as part of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Covid-19 Series, Prof Peacock said: “We have to be vigilant as ever and make an assumption that at the moment it’s quite a contained situation, but that we have to keep watching every day and every week to make sure that it stays like that.

“At the moment we’ve reached a situation where viruses around the world are behaving in quite similar ways.

“But then there comes the question what else might happen? And so if people ask could the virus become completely resistant to vaccine, could it become more lethal?

“And our answer to that is that I think it’s very unlikely that we’d ever get to a situation where the virus is completely resistant to vaccines because the vaccine manufacturers have been absolutely fantastic, and very innovative in keeping ahead of the curve.

“So, I would anticipate that vaccines will stay ahead of where they need to, but we can’t predict the future.”

In relation to the UK variant that was first detected in Kent, Prof Peacock said she could be “categorical” in saying that the vaccines being rolled out across the UK are effective against the variant which is causing almost all of the infections in the country.

Commenting on whether coronavirus was likely to become more or less lethal, Prof Peacock said: “We have to wait and see, and see what happens over time, very carefully tracking the genome.”

She added that a multi-pronged approach was needed to test for variants across the world, which included testing with rapid assays and sequencing.

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