New variant

The new variant: a note on the evidence

Boris Johnson introduced a third lockdown last night after an assessment by Britain’s four chief medical officers that the NHS wouldn’t be able to cope within three weeks on present trends. ‘Cases are rising almost everywhere, in much of the country driven by the new, more transmissible, variant,’ the medical officers said in a statement. With Covid caseloads clearly rising in hospitals nationwide, the grounds for action are pretty clear. But how sure can we be that the new variant is to blame?  One question seems to be asked again and again: if the new Covid variant is much more transmissible, why isn’t it rising everywhere? Why just in London

Schools should stay shut

­­During the battle against Covid-19, the government’s priority has been to ensure that schools remain open. Their rationale has been that closing schools would threaten children’s life chances. Covid’s risk to children, ministers argued, is relatively low while the cost of stunted learning is severe. But the new variant has changed that calculation. Prior to this mutation, children accounted for only a small percentage of Covid-19 infections and therefore keeping schools open was a reasonably safe course of action. Now case rates are rapidly increasing to previously unseen heights, leaving the NHS creaking at its seams. There is preliminary evidence suggesting that the new variant is more transmissible among the