Immunologist Professor Doctor Sai Reddy is warning that we “have to prepare” for the possibility that a new super variant could emerge in 2022.
Prof Reddy, of the federal technology institute ETH Zurich, believes that ‘Covid-22’, as its been dubbed, could be more deadly than the Delta variant.
He warns that its “inevitable” that a combination of existing strains could result in a new and more dangerous phase of the pandemic.
He is also saying that all children should get vaccinated because there is enough evidence to show the jabs are not a threat to the under 12s.
The Sun reports: Prof Reddy said: “Covid-22 could get worse than what we are witnessing now.
“If such a variant appears, we have to recognize it as early as possible and the vaccine manufacturers have to adapt the vaccine quickly.
“The emergence of this new variant is the big risk. We have to prepare for it.”
Speaking to German newspaper Blick, Prof Reddy said Delta was the most contagious variant of all – what he named “Covid-21”.
But it has not got “escape mutations”, which are genetic features that help it to dodge the immune system.
Escape mutations, seen in some variants such as Beta, mean vaccines become less effective, and may need to be tweaked in order to protect the population.
Prof Reddy said a combination of these factors – either more deadly, transmissible or immune evading – would be a problem in the near future.
He said: “It is the next phase of the pandemic when Beta or Gamma become more infectious or Delta develops escape mutations. That will be the big problem for the coming year.”
Variants of Covid are expected to arise in the future, as it is a natural part of the viruses evolution.
Whether they will become of significance is impossible to predict.
But with several already popping up in the space of less than two years, it does not bode well.
Sage, the group of scientists advising the UK Government, have said “vaccines do not provide absolute sterilising immunity”.
In a paper published on July 30, the group said the likelihood of Covid becoming more deadly was described as “likely” to a “realistic possibility”, due to the virus still spreading at such a high level globally.
The document stressed the importance of keeping on stop of booster campaigns – the first of which could start in September.
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