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The identification of a new variant of Covid has sent shockwaves around the world as leaders once again scramble to close borders and reintroduce measures to slow the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization has said that Omicron has a very high risk of infection. Of particular concern is its ability to evade Covid vaccines, and the CEO of US drug maker Moderna has warned that there is no world where vaccine efficacy is on par with the Delta variant.

The Guardian’s science correspondent Nicolas davis recount Hannah moore the variant is so new to scientists that there isn’t enough data to predict the severity of the threat it could pose, but the next two weeks will be crucial.

However, the emergence of a new “variant of concern” comes as no surprise. For months, scientists have warned that the inequitable distribution of vaccines means that with so many unvaccinated people, there is enormous potential for mutating dangerous new variants.

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Photograph: Maxym Marusenko / NurPhoto / REX / Shutterstock

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