WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- UK’s Health Secretary is “incredibly worried about the South African variant” prompting Britain to “restrict all flights from South Africa.”
- Health officials said the coronavirus variant from South Africa poses an even greater risk than the highly contagious UK variant.
- An Oxford University scientist said there is a “big question mark” over whether developed vaccines would be effective against the two separate strains.
The new South Africa COVID-19 variant poses an even bigger risk than the highly contagious strain discovered in UK patients, the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Monday.
In an interview on BBC radio, Hancock described the South African variant a “very significant problem” as he voiced out his concerns.
“I’m incredibly worried about the South African variant, and that’s why we took the action that we did to restrict all flights from South Africa,” the health official said on BBC’s “Today” program. “This is a very, very significant problem … and it’s even more of a problem than the UK new variant.”
Hancock added that the ITV News that the South African variant “seems even more easy to transmit than the new variant we’ve seen here [in the UK].”
There were only two cases of the South African variant reported in the UK, but 55,000 new coronavirus cases were documented in Britain on Sunday, according to the report.
“We’ve got to keep an eagle eye on this one because it is even harder to deal with than the UK variant,” Hancock said.
Citing one of the government’s scientific advisers, ITV political editor Robert Peston tweeted that existing Covid-19 vaccines won’t be as effective against the South African variant as they are for the one in the UK.
Also on Sunday, Oxford University scientist Sir John Bell told Times Radio that further research is needed because “there’s a big question mark” over whether the vaccines will work on the new strain.
But Bell added that he doesn’t think the current vaccines would be rendered completely ineffective against the variant.
Source: The Hill