Raj Bhopal: Every living thing develops mutations and that’s what variants are. The variant that spreads fastest and gives advantage to the microorganism is the one that becomes common. The so called ‘Kent’ variant is obviously giving an advantage to the virus, so it is becoming more common. It’s the same in all evolution, it’s survival of the fittest effectively. There is nothing we can do, except describe it, understand it and react to it. We can’t stop mutations, it’s impossible, they occur randomly. Think of, you are typing something, if 1000 typists are typing the same document, there will be at least one spelling mistake, so one in a 1000 of those documents has got a mistake in it. It’s a change. If that mistake makes the writing better, that survives and multiplies. So, we can’t do anything about it, but react to it. Currently, we are trying to stop new variants coming in from abroad through travel restrictions. Travel restrictions are not very effective, as we have seen in the United States. In the UK, we have a lot of this virus. It’s the other countries that want to put travel restrictions on us. Travel restrictions are not going to help us very much for the moment, but once we have got things under control, travel restrictions might help us, for example with the Brazil variant coming in at least, in large numbers, but it’s probably here already. History of pandemics and infections tell us, our abilities to control are quite limited, but the main thing is we keep surveillance, so we know what the nature of these variants is and whether they are likely to cause reinfection, severe reinfection and to whether they are likely to respond to vaccinations. My understanding is that the new variant, the UK variant will respond to the vaccine. This is what we are being currently told, but even if it didn’t, the vaccine manufactures could adapt the vaccine to include it in the same way that the Influenza vaccine is adapted every single year.
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