Simon Clarke

Dr Simon Clarke is associate professor in cellular microbiology at Reading University.

Podcast special: Britain’s role in the global economic recovery?

35 min listen

Covid 19 has been a crisis without borders. In a highly interconnected world, every country has felt the impacts of the pandemic, from supply chain disruption to low productivity and high inflationary pressures. Should the post-pandemic economic recovery be a global project? For decades, the UK has been a key player on the economic world

Don’t underestimate the Omicron variant

As the Omicron variant makes its way through the population of the UK, the Chief Medical Officer’s warning that we don’t know all that much about the variant, but ‘all the things we do know are bad’ was not what anyone wanted to hear this week. Unfortunately, Chris Whitty is right. The Omicron variant’s assault

Is Boris right to fear the Omicron variant?

Boris Johnson announced a new raft of coronavirus measures on Saturday, after two cases of the Omicron variant were detected in the UK. Face masks will soon be made mandatory in shops and on public transport and  PCR tests compulsory for those travelling to the UK. These new restrictions were revealed less than half a

If tiers don’t work, expect a third wave in the new year

‘The difficulty is that we’re coming out of the tough autumn measures, out of the lockdown… with the incidence of the disease still pretty high,’ Boris Johnson explained on Friday. It is against this backdrop that he finds himself trying to sell tougher Covid rules as England emerges from the November lockdown. It is an

It’s time to prepare for winter Covid restrictions

Earlier this week, the health secretary Sajid Javid said in a Downing Street press conference that the government was not yet ready or willing to activate its Covid ‘Plan B’. His announcement came after the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) argued last week that Plan B measures – such as mandatory masks, working from

Christina Lamb, Simon Clarke and Hannah Moore

21 min listen

On this week’s episode, Christina Lamb reads her letter from Kabul about the situation on the ground under the new Taliban control (00:56). Simon Clarke makes the case for Covid boosters (06:19). And Hannah Moore talks about the horrors of so-called ‘American’ sweet shops in the West End (15:18).

What Britain should learn from Israel about booster shots

It’s hard to remember a time when politicians have so publicly put pressure on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. Even the vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said this week that the booster programme is his ‘absolute priority’ as it will ‘help us to transition the virus from pandemic to endemic status’. So why is

We could be understating the ‘Kent’ Covid strain

‘Our estimate which is that the risk of death increases by 30 per cent is itself uncertain. We think it could be anywhere between 10 per cent and 50 per cent according to our analyses,’ said Dr Nick Davies, the author of one of the studies referenced in Friday’s Downing Street press conference, during an

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.

What the new strain means for our fight against Covid

‘What’s going on in Swale?’, asked a health journalist who I often speak to. This was back in November. I responded that I didn’t know where Swale is, let alone what its problem was, although I guessed it was most likely something to do with Covid-19. But now, we’re all looking at places like Swale —

South Dakota’s failed Swedish-style Covid experiment

Nothing much happens in South Dakota. It is a long way, in almost every sense, from the bright lights of New York, which was the epicentre of the spring coronavirus outbreak in North America. Now, however, the midwestern state, which was previously hailed for taking the ‘Swedish approach’ to coronavirus, is facing a virus rampaging

The questions we must ask about the Covid vaccine

After a difficult nine months, we are naturally all sick of lockdowns and other Covid restrictions. Everyone misses parts of their pre-coronavirus lives, from seeing friends and family, to pubs and restaurants, to the theatre and concerts and, yes, even our workplaces. It was therefore no surprise that this week’s news of a vaccine breakthrough

The dangers of knee-jerk lockdown scepticism

From the very start of the pandemic, modelling projections and empirical data have been twisted to suit different agendas. Fanatics on both sides of the debate have cherry-picked data — whether those demanding tougher restrictions or those on the other side who believe that the virus is harmless and that this is all big fuss

What lockdown sceptics get wrong about Sweden

Should Britain return to a form of lockdown — the logical conclusion of a suppression strategy — or should we adopt a different approach, one that looks more like Sweden? Those in favour of a so-called ‘segmentation strategy’, where the vulnerable are shielded and the rest of us are allowed to continue with our lives

What lockdown sceptics get wrong

One of the more peculiar features of Covid is just how cleanly the crisis has split us down political lines. As a serving Tory councillor, you may assume that my views on masks, lockdown and the virus are predictable. But I’m also a microbiologist and I’m dismayed by the attitudes of some fellow travellers.  Pandemics,