New UK-wide restrictions are now essential. At Independent Sage, we’ve come up with a five-point emergency plan

• Stephen Reicher is a member of Independent Sage

The new variants of Covid-19 have changed the nature of the pandemic. We are no longer facing the same situation as in March or even November. Our response must change accordingly.

It is now clear that variant B117 of Covid-19 is already established in all parts of the UK. Being an estimated 56% more transmissible than pre-existing variants, it is likely to constitute 90% of all cases by mid-January. According to UK government briefings, even current tier 4 restrictions are insufficient to deal with its spread. Indeed, no single measure is likely to be sufficient to bring the pandemic back under control. Rather we need an integrated response that brings together all the instruments we have to deal with the infection.

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