The identification of a new Covid variant has sent shockwaves around the world as leaders scramble once again to close borders and reintroduce measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization has said Omicron poses a very high risk of infection. Its ability to evade Covid vaccines is of particular concern, and the chief executive of the US drugmaker Moderna has warned there is no world where the effectiveness of vaccines is at the same level as with the Delta variant.
The Guardian’s science correspondent Nicola Davis tells Hannah Moore the variant is so new to scientists there is not enough data to predict how serious a threat it could pose, but the next two weeks will be crucial.
However, the emergence of a new “variant of concern” is no surprise. For months scientists have warned that the inequitable distribution of vaccines means that with so many people unvaccinated, there is huge scope for dangerous new variants to mutate.
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