Coronavirus will evolve to make vaccines useless every three years, a top scientist has predicted.
The bug will mutate to get around natural immunity and jabs like the winter flu, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.
He said the new strain of Covid-19 in the UK suggests vaccines will need regular updating – and that the virus could become undetectable by antigen and antibody tests.
Mr Gottlieb told CNBC : "I don’t think this is something we need to update every season, but if it becomes easy to update it, you may do that, you may look at what the predominant strain is and try to update it more regularly.
"We thought every two, or maybe three years, I was saying that probably 6-8 months ago, every three years, that might still be the case."
His comments come as the new strain of Covid saw Christmas cancelled for millions of Brits.
A string of countries have banned flights from the UK after Boris Johnson claimed mutated coroanvirus could be 70% more infectious.
London and South East were plunged into Tier 4 lockdown over the weekend after results showed the strain emerged in Kent in September.
Mr Gottlieb added: "We now think that this is more transmissible.
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"It doesn’t seem to have mutated the surface proteins of the virus in a way that they would slip past our vaccines or prior immunity, in fact, we don’t think that that’s the case.
"But what this does suggest is that the virus probably will evolve its surface proteins in a way that they won’t be recognised by the antibodies we have right now and we will have to update the vaccines.
"We’re developing antibodies to many different regions of that protein, so even if one part of that protein were mutated, and some antibodies no longer recognise it, there would be antibodies to other parts of that protein."
On antigen and antibody tests for Covid, he added the virus "could potentially slip past those tests".
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