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One of the government’s top scientific advisers has played down fears about China’s surge in Covid cases and suggested fresh border restrictions are not necessary.
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, who helped develop the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, said trying to ‘contain the virus’ through travel restrictions had ‘already been shown not to work very well’.
He also suggested that, even if a new Covid variant emerged in China, its impact in the UK would be limited due to the high level of immunity already present in the UK.
Fellow experts also sought to allay concerns about the sharp rise in Covid cases in China, as they pointed to the strength of British vaccines.
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Professor Calum Semple, an expert in outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, said: ‘Relax, we’ve got it covered.
Professor Alison Pollock, a public health expert at Newcastle University, said it ‘really doesn’t make sense’ to introduce new border controls as Covid is already ‘endemic’ in the UK.
The US, Italy India, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and Japan have all announced new travel measures in response to China’s surge in infections, which followed the abrupt end of Beijing’s zero-Covid policy.
But the government has so far resisted calls to re-impose new border restrictions – including two former health ministers.
A spokesman said last night that there are no plans for new mandatory tests for arrivals in the UK, although the government is keeping the situation ‘under review’.
Passengers on a flight from Shanghai arrived at Heathrow Airport in London yesterday
The government has so far resisted calls to re-impose new border restrictions – including from two former health ministers
The US, Italy India, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and Japan have all announced new travel measures in response to China’s surge in COVID cases
Our world in data graph shows daily confirmed COVID cases in China. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention stopped reporting daily cases last week without giving any reason. It reported about 5,000 cases per day last week and a small number of deaths. However, some estimates suggest that China is actually facing one million cases and 5,000 deaths per day.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay met Sir Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, and Jenny Harries of the UK Health Protection Agency to discuss the situation yesterday.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today program this morning, Sir Andrew admitted that China was on course for ‘a lot’ of infections as the country experiences its first major Covid wave.
But he suggested that, even if a new Covid variant emerges in China amid a surge in cases, it may not have a significant impact on the UK.
“The variants that have emerged in China are going to be best adapted to spread in the Chinese population, which is far less Covid-experienced than countries like the UK,” he said.
‘They haven’t had additional immunity from waves of COVID, so it’s very difficult to tell at this time whether the variant emerging in China is likely to have any impact in the UK anyway.
‘Existing variants that are already present all over the world, so testing people traveling from China probably doesn’t answer the question of whether a new variant is going to be a problem here.’
Sir Andrew, who chairs the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, also dismissed the effectiveness of travel restrictions to contain the spread of the new Covid variant.
“Trying to ban a virus by adjusting what we do with travel is already not working very well,” he said.
‘And we’ve seen that with travel restrictions from different countries during the pandemic.
‘Which hasn’t stopped those viruses from eventually traveling around the world.
‘The important thing is that we have surveillance that we can pick up on when the virus is spreading within our populations, here in the UK or Europe, and help predict how health systems, and particularly its What can happen with More vulnerable in the population.’
Figures from Our World in Data show that 89 per cent of people in China have had a double-jab, while 75 per cent in the UK and 69 per cent in the US have received two doses.
According to daily reported cases, which depend on testing levels, China reported 2 cases per million people in the week to 22 December, while the UK reported 97 and the US 200
Sequencing data shows that the Omicron sub-variant BF.7 is on the rise in China, causing 35.3 percent of positive cases studied in laboratories
BF.7 is estimated to have an evolutionary advantage of 30 percent, suggesting that it spreads more easily, leaves people infectious for longer, or develops a better immune system than the currently dominant BA.5 strain. Is
Sir Andrew pointed out how the Beta variant that emerged in South Africa ‘didn’t really spread to the UK at all’, nor did the Gamma variant from Latin America.
“I’m sure that time will be related to differences in the immune experience of different populations,” he said.
Prof Semple also played down concerns about a rising Covid case in China and urged Britons to have faith in the country’s booster vaccines.
He told BBC Breakfast: “The good news is that the sequences that Chinese scientists have shared over the past few weeks are all showing that the virus circulating in China is closely related to those circulating in the rest of the world.” Roaming in.” world in the last six months.
‘The vaccine we’ve got in the UK – the one with the new booster, not the old one – covers you against these Omicron strains.
‘So, actually, I’m going to take…