Unless Omicron changes everything, Covid is on the way out

There are good reasons to be concerned about the Omicron variant. For starters, this strain has 50 mutations, twice as many as Delta. Early reports from South Africa, where the virus has been circulating for a while, suggest it’s outcompeting Delta and spreading rapidly. There is a concern, too, that it could blunt the vaccines, because more than half of the new mutations affect the spike protein that the jabs are designed against. But all of this is theoretical: we need real-world data. So we won’t know whether it really is more transmissible, or how the vaccines perform against it, until long after Christmas. The concern, for now, remains Delta, as

Can schools return without disruption?

A lot of people won’t want to take much notice of Mary Bousted, joint-general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), who warns today that schools face significant disruption by the end of September as Covid-prevention measures have to be reintroduced. It was the NEU, after all, which not only opposed the return of schools after the first lockdown, but simultaneously advised its members not to take part in online lessons either. The NEU has often given the impression of being motivated first and foremost by a desire to obstruct the government’s plans. Sir Patrick Vallance’s original verdict on the virus – that it is not possible to stop it

How are the vaccines affected by the Delta variant?

Has the emergence of the Delta, or Indian, variant reduced the effectiveness of Covid vaccines and if so by how much? The fear that the Delta variant might be partially escaping our vaccines has often been expressed in recent weeks, especially given that highly-vaccinated countries such as Israel and parts of the US have suffered new peaks of infection since the Delta variant came to dominate. But there has been a lack of real-world data to prove whether or not there is any grounding to these fears. Today, however, the Oxford University Covid 19 Infection Survey published a study which seeks to answer this question. It compared the results of