Going back to ‘normal’ will be a process, not an event – we must learn to live with Covid

Editorial: The reality is that only one communicable disease has ever been eradicated from the surface of the Earth, that being smallpox, and it took almost two centuries

Monday 08 February 2021 21:30 GMT

The name sounds like something out of an apocalyptic science fiction film, but the menace of the South African variant – or B1351, to give it its code name – is very real.

It does, like other variants, seem more contagious than the original coronavirus, and the AstraZeneca vaccine may well be less effective against it. But Jonathan Van-Tam stated on Monday evening that, despite widespread reports, there was no evidence that the South Africa variant is more transmissible.

As far as the experts seem able to determine, the AstraZeneca vaccine does still prevent the most serious cases escalating to hospitalisation or death. But so-called mild and moderate Covid may become more likely than in the past if people come into contact with this particular variant of the virus. Whether other vaccines are similarly losing a degree of their effectiveness is not clear, but it is at least a possibility.

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