New Kent Covid-19 variant ‘on course to sweep the world’ says top scientist

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A Covid-19 strain is "on course to sweep the world" and become the dominant strain, according to a top scientist.

The strain was first found in Kent before it "swept the country," and now it is likely to take over the world "in all probability," says Professor Sharon Peacock.

Prof Peacock's comments were made while speaking on the BBC's Newscast podcast.

It comes as the Kent variant has been detected in more than 50 countries since being reported in September 2020.

The mutant strain was first reported in south-east England and was known to be faster-spreading than the original variant.

Since its emergence, the UK has been placed into a third lockdown in a bid to prevent the rapid spread of coronavirus.

Prof Peacock, director of the Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium, said: "What's really affected us at the moment is transmissibility."

She added: "Once we get on top of [the virus] or it mutates itself out of being virulent – causing disease – then we can stop worrying about it.

"But I think, looking in the future, we're going to be doing this for years. We're still going to be doing this 10 years down the line, in my view."

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The new variant also cast doubt over the effectiveness of current vaccines, as they were designed around earlier versions of the strain, reports BBC News.

However, scientists believe the vaccines will work against new strains.

Earlier it was also reported a SAGE expert, Professor John Edmunds, warned that the Bristol Covid-19 variant may reinfect people who have already been vaccinated, giving rise to a “real worry” of a new wave.

He told ITV’s Robert Peston: “Where it has an advantage, potentially at least, is that it may be able to reinfect people who have been previously infected or have been previously vaccinated – that’s the real worry with that particular virus.”

While the government’s programme of vaccinating the more vulnerable groups – such as the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions – is going well, Professor Edmunds says that it would be "very dangerous" to let the virus rip through the rest of the population.

  • Coronavirus

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