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As most of us are now double or even triple vaccinated and life was starting to get back to normal at the end of 2021, there was a sign of cautious optimism that we were overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, since the start of December, a new variant known as Omicron entered the scene and has now swept rapidly across the UK, not only taking over Delta as the dominant strain, but also leading to record high numbers of COVID infections due to its highly transmissible nature.
First identified in South Africa and now potentially on course to becoming the dominant COVID variant in other parts of the world too, Tim speaks to Professor Wendy Barclay about what makes this particular strain so dominant, how well our vaccines are working against it, and what it means for the future of COVID.
Lead investigator on the ZOE COVID Study app
Prof. Tim Spector is a scientific co-founder at ZOE, lead scientist of the ZOE COVID Symptom Study, professor of genetic epidemiology and director of the TwinsUK Registry at King's College, London. Having published over 800 research articles, he is ranked in the top 1% of the world's most-cited scientists by Thomson-Reuters. He is also a prolific writer, with several popular science books including 'The Diet Myth' and 'Spoon-Fed'.
Action Medical Research Chair in Virology and Head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London
Wendy’s expertise is in the field of respiratory viruses, in particular influenza virus but now also SARS-CoV-2, and the mechanisms by which viruses can cross from animal sources into humans to cause new pandemics.
Her leading role in virology has resulted in her expertise being widely sought on advisory boards, and she has also worked extensively with the Science Media Centre, whose aim is to improve the relationship between scientists and the media.