‘Omicron not the end’ New strains could be more severe and infectious – expert warning

Omicron: GP explains ‘overwhelming’ science behind vaccines

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Simon Clarke, Associate Professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, said new strains of the coronavirus will “come along” all the time. And some might be “dead ends” and “inconsequential” but others could turn out to be a “problem”, proving to be more severe and more infectious.

Mr Clarke told Express.co.uk of new strains: “They will come along – every time anybody gets infected, doesn’t matter who they are, doesn’t matter whether they’ve had it before, new variants come along.

“It’s just the case of them being dead ends, inconsequential, of course a vanishingly small proportion turn out to be a problem.

“Sooner or later we could get variants that will fill that space and could cause us a problem.”

He said new strains could be proven to be more infectious and severe as he warned of the “possibility that we get another pathogenic strain”.

Mr Clarke added: “This thing about viruses wanting to become less virulent or being to their advantage to be is simply not true.

“They can be less virulent, we have seen that, but they can become more anagenic and more virulent too.

“So it is not a one-way street, it can go and up-down.

“One would expect new variants to come along, we don’t know what they will look like yet, don’t know what their characteristics will be

“It’s completely uncertain.”

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“There is a possibility that we get another pathogenic strain.

“We shouldn’t forget that the one that caused the outbreak in the first lockdown, when increased in its ability to cause disease three times, the Wuhan variant did, there was a variant that caused lots of infections in Europe that sprung up several times, then we went to the Kent variant, then we went to delta and of course there were other versions around the world.

“The idea that just because the ability to cause disease has gone downwards, but it still down, I don’t think that necessarily follows.”

People in the UK are currently asked to take two vaccines to fight the coronavirus and a booster jab.

On the prospect of a fourth vaccine, Mr Clarke said: “Omicron is under control, absolutely.

“It will be interesting to see once the booster immunity default starts to drop, which it will do, what happens to omicron infection numbers and the picture there.

“Only then I think, in short to medium term, are we likely to see fourth jabs offered.”

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