Video Q&A: Curious about COVID-19? Expert panel answer questions on vaccines, wellbeing and more

Are you immune to COVID-19 if you’ve had the vaccine? Is there going to be a ‘third wave’? How accurate are lateral flow tests? Will the coronavirus ever fully disappear? Ponder no more as we have asked your COVID-19 questions to a panel of #LboroExperts from a range of research backgrounds.

The two-part ‘Ask An Expert’ video features:

We’ve included a selection of interesting Q&As below, plus the second part of the video – which covers everything from social media to sleep!

Will COVID-19 ever fully disappear?

“Unfortunately, no I don’t think it will”, said Professor Lettie Bishop. “One of the major problems is the asymptomatic transmission, it hides itself so well and often it is transmitted before you have even developed symptoms or you may not even develop symptoms at all, and that makes it really hard, and it does mutate.”

Professor Bishop continued: “I think we will learn to live with it, like we live with seasonal flu. I think we will have to continually vaccinate each year, like we do with seasonal flu, but I don’t ever see us getting a zero COVID situation.

“Until COVID happened, the number of deaths from seasonal flu each year wasn’t in the public consciousness and there can be 20-30,000 deaths from flu in a bad year.

“And that is just something people don’t ever think about, and it tends to affect people in the 70s and over, and the hospital admissions are really high.

“Now, there hasn’t been much seasonal flu this year because of COVID and perhaps it is because of all the social distancing and all the hygiene aspects that we have taken, and I think it [COVID] is just going to become like that.

“I think unfortunately it is going to become one of those illnesses that comes into the group of respiratory illnesses that lead to deaths in vulnerable people over the winter periods.”

How accurate are lateral flow tests?

“The accuracy of lateral flow tests, or any flow tests, are really important to understand”, answered Professor Paul Thomas.

“If you get a positive reading on a lateral flow test, you have the virus inside you, no doubt about it, you can be very confident that you are carrying the virus.

“If you get a negative test, that does not mean you do not have the virus, it means the virus has not been detected and there are several reasons why you could have the virus and still not test positive.

“So, it could depend on how you took the sample – when you stuck the stick inside your head and scraped around, did you actually scrape the right bit of tissue that had virus in it?

“Or maybe you have only recently been infected and the disease hasn’t developed yet so there isn’t enough virus for you to sample and test.

“And finally, maybe the chemicals or the test you were using were faulty and you sampled fine and the virus was there, but the test didn’t work properly.

“The lateral flow tests fail to danger. So, if you get a false negative reading you a very dangerous person if you behave like you haven’t got the virus.

“You have to behave as if you may the virus and the small things that you do – such as wear a mask, don’t get too close to people, maintain good biosecurity – could save someone’s life.

“Small actions have huge consequences so if you test negative it does not mean you’re safe, it means you should be careful.”

Should we be easing restrictions with the news of new COVID-19 variants?

“Well, we had the Kent variant that caused us to go into a severe lockdown over the Christmas period, so we have been living with a variant that is now becoming more common across Europe”, explained Dr Duncan Robertson.

“But there are also other variants called ‘variants of concern’, particularly the South African variant, which is increasing, and the P1 variant, the variant detected in Manaus, in Brazil.

“So, this is why I think the Government wants to include the fourth test, the variance test. We are seeing variants and we have to take them very seriously because if we do come out of lockdown the last thing anybody wants is yet another lockdown.”

Questions featured in the Ask An Expert videos were submitted by staff, students, and members of the public via Loughborough University’s Instagram page.