MORE mutant Covid strains are likely to hit Britain, Jonathan van-Tam warned last night, as Boris Johnson said he was "concerned" about the Brazilian mutation.
The deputy chief medical officer told Brits to prepare for coronavirus to "continue to change over time", after the PM revealed a third strain of the bug had emerged in Brazil.
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Professor Van Tam told The Sun in an exclusive interview that Covid was likely to be with us forever: "I don’t think we are ever going to take this virus away out of humankind.
He added: "I think the virus is going to continue to change over time, as the disease has already shown signs of doing."
Professor Van-Tam said Covid would likely stick around in the same way the flu does – which mutates regularly.
And he said eventually "there will come a point where we will have to reformulate the vaccines", if new strains continue to crop up across the world.
The top scientist could not say how long the protection from the vaccine is expected to last, but predicted it could "possibly" last for "a small number of years".
It is more likely it would be "in the region of a very high number of months," he said.
The deputy chief medical officer also said lockdown will probably be with us until “mid to late Spring” as he answered Sun readers’ questions in an exclusive chat.
But if Brits start easing up on lockdown rules now “they are going to give the vaccine a headwind to run into”, he warned.
In a rallying cry to the nation, he urged the country to “not relax” when the end is in sight.
GRAND NATIONAL STYLE RACE
Britain is leading the world in its vaccination programme, but tens of millions will need to be jabbed before infection rates are slashed and strict rules can be torn up, he added.
He told Sun readers today: “That’s the problem right now – disease activity is really high. But people are starting to think, oh well the vaccine is coming along I can relax a bit now.
“No, no no no. The vaccine effects are going to take three months until we see them properly, and until then no one can relax.
“We are probably in the last few furlongs of this race – like in the Grand National. We just have a couple more fences, we have just got to stick with it.”
He said even those who have received their jabs must stick to lockdown and social distancing rules for now.
On lockdown rules being lifted, he added: “That is not until, my guess, the mid to late Spring. And people have got to be patient with that.”
Matt Hancock has previously set four tests for lifting Britain’s lockdown measures.
The number of deaths and hospitalisations needs to be coming down, no new variants that cause problems, and the vaccination programme being rolled out as planned all must happen first.
It’s unlikely to be until the end of February at the very earliest, but ministers have refused to put a time-frame on it.
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