Bristol variant ‘could reinfect people who have had Covid vaccine’

A Pharmacist injects a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccine centre set up at an Odeon cinema complex in Maidstone, southeast England on February 10, 2021. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A pharmacist vaccinates a man inside a temporary vaccine centre set up at an Odeon cinema in Maidstone (Picture: AFP/Getty)

The new Bristol variant may be able to reinfect people who’ve been vaccinated, a Sage expert has warned.

Professor John Edmunds said the mutant strain, which emerged last week along with the Liverpool variant, could also infect people who’ve already had Covid.

The Bristol strain is a mutated version of the Kent variant and could potentially make the vaccine less effective at stopping the spread of the virus.

Prof Edmunds said he suspects it is not as transmissible as the Kent variant, but the ‘the real worry’ was its potential to reinfect.

He told ITV’s Robert Peston: ‘Where it has an advantage, potentially at least, is that it may be able to reinfect people who have been previously infected or have been previously vaccinated – that’s the real worry with that particular virus.’



The leading epidemiologist did predict the UK should be ‘more or less free’ of coronavirus by the end of the year, but warned against relaxing lockdown restrictions too quickly.

He said it would still be ‘very dangerous’ to let the virus rip even after the most vulnerable have been vaccinated.

‘I think we do have to keep our borders pretty tight at the moment – nobody likes this,’ he said.

Richard Moss, 73, receives an injection of the the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from Lance Corporal Carla Fraser, Regimental Aid Post 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, at the Elland Road vaccination centre in Leeds. Picture date: Monday February 8, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Millions of Brits over 70 have now been vaccinated but Sage experts have warned against easing restrictions too quickly (Picture: PA)

‘But we’ve identified these significant new variants that are out there and we need to be able to arm ourselves against them and we don’t have new vaccines that could potentially arm ourselves against these new variants yet.

‘I know that companies are working very hard on developing new vaccines in order to protect against these potential new variants that might affect us so I do think we need to be very cautious at the moment about travel abroad.’

Prof Edmunds also said it would be ‘touch and go’ whether the reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission would rise above one if schools reopen on March 8.

He told Peston: ‘We’re not absolutely certain, it looks as if it would be touch and go. If we opened up schools I think that the reproduction number would get close to one and possibly exceed one.

‘If we opened them up completely, if we opened secondary schools and primary schools both at the same time, I suspect we’d be lucky to keep the reproduction number below one…

‘I think we have to do everything very gradually and see how it goes.’



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Bristol – Metro