December 7, 2021
Britain alarmed by new COVID-19 variant spreading in South Africa

Britain alarmed by new COVID-19 variant spreading in South Africa

LONDON — Britain on Thursday stated it was involved by a newly recognized coronavirus variant spreading in South Africa that may make vaccines much less efficient and imperil efforts to combat the pandemic.  

The UK Well being Safety Company (UKHSA) stated the variant, which is known as B.1.1.529, has a spike protein that was dramatically completely different to the one in the unique coronavirus that COVID-19 vaccines are primarily based on.  

“This is the most significant variant we have encountered to date and urgent research is underway to learn more about its transmissibility, severity and vaccine-susceptibility,” UKHSA Chief Govt Jenny Harries stated.  

The variant was first recognized in the beginning of this week, however Britain rushed to introduce journey restrictions on South Africa and 5 neighbouring international locations, appearing rather more swiftly than with the at the moment dominant Delta variant.  

“What we do know is there’s a significant number of mutations, perhaps double the number of mutations that we have seen in the Delta variant,” Well being Secretary Sajid Javid advised broadcasters.  

“And that would suggest that it may well be more transmissible and the current vaccines that we have may well be less effective.”  

Britain introduced it was quickly banning flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Eswatini from 1200 GMT on Friday, and that returning British vacationers from these locations must quarantine.  

Mr. Javid stated extra knowledge on the variant was wanted, however the journey restrictions have been obligatory as a precaution.  

Scientists stated lab research have been wanted to evaluate the chance of the mutations ensuing in enormously diminished vaccine efficacy.  

Earlier on Thursday, South African scientists stated they’d detected the new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and have been working to know its potential implications.  

The variant has additionally been discovered in Botswana and Hong Kong, however the UK Well being Safety Company stated no circumstances of it had been detected in Britain.  

Imperial Faculty London epidemiologist Neil Ferguson stated that B.1.1.529 had an “unprecedented” variety of mutations in the spike protein and was driving a latest speedy improve in case numbers in South Africa.  

“The government’s move to restrict travel with South Africa is, therefore, prudent,” he stated.  

“However, we do not yet have reliable estimates of the extent to which B.1.1.529 might be either more transmissible or more resistant to vaccines, so it is too early to be able to provide an evidence-based assessment of the risk it poses.” — Alistair Smout and William Schomberg/Reuters

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