An expert says a new variant of Covid-19 is one of the most infectious diseases the world has ever seen and he says almost everyone is going to catch it. Professor Adrian Esterman, an epidemiologist and biostatistican, says the variant is up to six times more transmissible than the original strain of Covid.
Prof Esterman, a former World Health Organization scientist, was speaking as cases of Covid rise 48% in a week in England, double in China to the worst levels that country has seen since the start of the pandemic and triple in part of Australia. The surge is believed to be driven by the new variant, BA.2, reports The Mail.
James Wood, a public health mathematician at the University of NSW, said: “We think [the first] Omicron is very similar to Delta and that BA.2 is then another 25-30 per cent more contagious. “
According to the Mail, even people who have been triple vaccinated are at risk of catching the new strain. They say BA.2’s R number – the rate at which it can spread – is 12, compared to 2.5 for the original virus. Prof Esterman said this level of infectiousness makes the new strain ‘pretty close to measles, the most contagious disease we know about’.
Prof Esterman says BA.2 appears to cause less severe disease than previous strains. But he said all strains of Covid are dangerous.
He said: “The trouble is it causes more severe disease in vulnerable people than influenza, and it has the capacity to cause real damage to younger people too. There have been several cases of young, healthy and fit people dying from Covid. I cannot remember that ever happening with influenza. “
He added: “Covid-19 can attack every part of the body, from clotting to the heart and brain. There have even been cases of young children with multi-system inflammatory condition.”
Prof Esterman said: “It is true that pandemics become less infectious over time, but that happens over 100 years, not one year.”