SAGE warned that the likelihood of a more severe variant under these circumstances was a “realistic possibility”. The experts said this could be caused by a “recombination” between two variants of concern or variants under investigation, such as between beta and alpha or delta variants. It set out measures the government should consider to combat this, including minimising the “introduction of new variants from other territories (to reduce risk of recombination between variants)”.
It said the eradication of the virus “will be unlikely” and the scientists have “high confidence in stating that there will always be variants”. The document written by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) looked at the “long term evolution of SARS-CoV-2”, the virus that causes COVID-19.
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They considered a scenario where a variant causes severe disease in a greater proportion of the population than has previously occurred, with similar death rates to other coronaviruses SARS (10%) or MERS (35%). In a paper published on Friday, the scientists outline the chances that a new variant will evade current vaccines, saying one of the causes is “almost certain” to happen.
Meanwhile, SAGE said a scenario where a variant evades current vaccines because of a process known as “antigenic drift” is “almost certain”. It suggests that the UK needs to continue vaccinating vulnerable age groups “at regular periods with updated vaccines” to the dominant variants to increase their protection. It said that while it was “unlikely in the short term”, there is a “realistic possibility in the long term”.
SAGE also looked at a scenario where the coronavirus becomes like one “that causes common colds, but with much less severe disease predominantly in the old or clinically vulnerable.” Ministers confirmed this week that England would allow fully vaccinated visitors from both the EU and the United States to arrive without needing to quarantine from 2 August.
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- COVID-19: New, More Lethal Coronavirus Variant That Could Kill One In Three People Infected “A Realistic Possibility,” Warns SAGE | UK News
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