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Covid news - live: Variants will ‘gradually erode’ immunity, as mass event trials to forego social distancing

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Liam James and Andy Gregory
·1-min read
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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

The emergence of new variants will lead to a “gradual erosion” of vaccine protection – rather than causing immunity to “just disappear”, an expert on the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said.

Following a warning from Imperial’s Professor Danny Altman that a new Indian variant could “scupper” Boris Johnson’s lockdown easing plans, Professor Adam Finn – who sits on the JCVI – offered reassurance that he would be “really surprised” if the country ended up “back to square one” as a result of foreign variants.

It comes as the government’s Events Research Programme gears up to hold trials of mass events without social distancing measures in place or mandatory face coverings in order to test their safety. It will test a range of safety measures over a number of scheduled events in the coming weeks, which include the FA Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the global death toll from coronavirus is estimated to have exceeded three million, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University, with the true number thought to be significantly higher.

And pressure is growing on the government to place India on its “red list” of hotel quarantine countries ahead of Mr Johnson’s planned visit to the country, as infections in the nation soar at record levels, prompting states to reluctantly impose new restrictions.

The new variant has already reached the UK, with Public Health England reporting 73 cases in England and four in Scotland.