UK coronavirus variant ‘may be more deadly’: What now for the UK? – BBC Newsnight

[Music] 308 days 308 days since the streets first emptied since the first lockdown descended only the gloomiest might have thought that 308 days on we would still be in the same situation covid still punctuating our lives yet never quite being able to find a full stop and thanks to news of variants foreign and domestic that full stop seemed fuzzier and less defined at the press conference today in addition to spreading more quickly it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant the variant that was first identified in london and the south east may be associated with a higher degree of mortality nerve tag minutes published today confirm the potential danger concluding the data suggests there is a realistic possibility that infection with voc b117 the new uk variant is associated with an increased risk of death the science remains uncertain though with some scientists expressing significant skepticism about the data available and the vaccines do still work on this variant nonetheless it may raise new questions over the decision not to lock down nationally in mid to late december when the variant's greater transmissibility became known but this may not be the last domestic variant we see newsnite understands that public health england and nerve tag have been investigating several new mutations across the country one is based in liverpool where i've been told there have been some 48 cases of a new mutation which contained the e48 4k mutation common to the brazil and south african variants and which seemed to make vaccines less effective and crucially it's happened here not been imported public health england tells us we are currently investigating a cluster of cases in liverpool of covet 19.

All cases are linked and further genome testing and public health investigations are underway there's no reason to believe that these new clusters pose any serious threat right now but it is indicative to the cat and mouse game we now face yeah i would say 2021 is the year of the variant in vaccines especially the mrna vaccine manufacturers have said within weeks they can change their vaccines so then it becomes a race of how quickly can we redesign the vaccines roll them out and get them into people's arms faster then let's say a new variant could spread and so i don't see any way around in the coming year to having travel restrictions in place because that's one of the few ways to protect against variants coming in once we deal with a domestic issue of getting the numbers low the next year or two to have travel restrictions well there's no easy way out of this crisis if i'm completely honest i mean this is a global problem so even if we suppress it here effectively and vaccinate everyone it could be circulating somewhere else in the world and all it takes is for someone to get on a plane ride and come here and if we have everything open in it for it to spread permanent travel restrictions will not sit comfortably with the tory benches and nor will the prospect of a much lengthier way for lifting restrictions than they feared being realistic it seems to me unlikely that we'll be looking at relaxing restrictions in any kind of serious sense before the end of march um and then from that point it's going to then have to be very very gradual vaccination will start to play a role but it's going to have to be a gradual easing out of those restrictions otherwise you know if we pull the plug as it were we'll get a resurgence and we'll have to be reintroducing measures again that extends even to the most basic lifting that of schools i'm told that a preliminary estimate discussed in government suggests that if schools return after february half term even if other restrictions remain in place hospital numbers would remain at very high levels more comprehensive work modelling the question of schools is to be undertaken in the next week or so but it is certain that hospital numbers are so high that there is very little room for maneuver i think listening to this evening the penny has now dropped with the government they realize that there's no quick fix to this there's no one-stop-shop solution it requires a lot of different things coming together and very steady progress and not lifting things quickly and making the mistakes that we made before it's been the view that vaccines are the silver bullet and they do remain the way out but tonight that silver may be a little less lustrous a realization that things may take a little longer and be a little harder than we'd hoped

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