Support 100 years of independent journalism.

The new “Nu” Covid variant is of our own making

The vaccine roll-out in the UK has been successful, but as long as global vaccination rates remain uneven, the potential remains high for worrying new variants.

By Stephen Bush

South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe have been placed on the United Kingdom’s red list, in a bid to prevent the new “Nu” variant of Covid. Returning travellers from those six countries will have to quarantine for ten days while further flights from these countries will be banned. Stock markets around the world have fallen on the news.

It’s a reminder of three neglected truths. The first is that in most of the world, Covid-19 has been far deadlier in 2021 than it was in 2020. The vaccine rollout in the UK has enabled us to escape that, but as long as global vaccination rates remain uneven, the potential remains high for worrying new variants such as Nu – which has many more mutations than Delta, and therefore may be able to escape the vaccine. Thirdly, as long as global vaccine rates remain uneven, global growth – and growth here in the UK – will continue to be constrained. The spectre of further lockdowns, while scientists work on improvements to existing vaccines, will never be fully eradicated. 

Video by Valeria Cardi

We’ve always known that in addition to being a moral imperative, ensuring equal access and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines is in our economic and broader self-interest. Scientific innovation does mean that we will improve existing vaccines to combat new variants including Nu. But the failure of the rich world to ensure an equal supply of vaccines to the rest may well have to take a fresh toll upon the most advanced economies before that lesson is learned and acted upon.  

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

THANK YOU

Content from our partners
How to create a responsible form of “buy now, pay later”
“Unions are helping improve conditions for drivers like me”
Transport is the core of levelling up
Topics in this article: ,