THE UK is now a perfect spot for Covid variants to emerge after relaxing restrictions, scientists warn.
Brits are in a “prone position” to new strains to thrive, with cases still high and large number still not protected with both vaccine doses.
Thousands of younger Brits haven’t had their second jab, which gives the key protection against catching the virus.
And many are snubbing the vaccine entirely, as the rollout in younger age groups slumps.
Dr Aris Katzourakis, who studies viral evolution at the University of Oxford, told the BBC: “We are probably at the evolutionary high point, at the worst combination for an escape to happen in the UK.
“The UK is in a prone position, whether it will happen we don’t know, but it’s more likely to happen here, 现在, than ever before.”
Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, 添加: “In a population with partial immunity – particularly if a virus is spreading in the background – that will encourage a 病毒 towards immune escape, that is inevitable.
“But what that ultimately means is unclear.”
Mutations in the virus happen as mistake initially, but sometimes these typos in the virus makeup is advantageous, and gets repeated.
They can be able to evade vaccines more easily or contain an element that allows it to spread faster.
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现在, because so many people have immunity, the virus needs to strike lucky with mutations that can help it get around the vaccines and prior infection antibodies.
So now that the UK has a largely vaccinated population, but is still seeing largescale spread, we are at a key moment.
With people mingling more than ever before the virus has more of a chance to spread and pass on mutations which could form a new variant.
It doesn’t necessarily mean we will be hit by a super variant that beats the vaccines, but the conditions created by the lack of social distancing and the spread make it more likely.
Dr Katzourakis said: “I hope it doesn’t, but it is a big gamble, if we compromise the incredible vaccines we have now I don’t even want to contemplate what that world would look like.”
Variants, a normal part of a virus’ 发展, have blighted the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown.
First the Kent (Alpha) variant took the country into another long lockdown, and then the 三角洲 英国广播公司一号确认两部大型游戏节目在离屏多年后回归 “自由日” and has seen cases rise again.
Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid have said that there is no perfect time to lift restrictions – claiming it’s better to open the economy in the summer months than in the winter.
While experts agree to some extent, one today said that the timing “isn’t great” due to the fact that cases are rising so fast due to the Delta variant.
Sage member Professor Callum Semple said there should still be some conditions of entry to some places, such as mask wearing.
“It’s going to take a lot of self control to manage this – we know non-pharmaceutical interventions work, we know hand hygiene, face mask wearing really does work, social distancing works – it’s just a case of getting people to adhere to it on their own behaviour now.
“That’s going to be really tricky”, he told BBC Breakfast.