Britain warns of new COVID-19 variants in South Africa

File Photo: May 27, 2021, in Leicester, England, with signs of social distance as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is widespread.Reuters / Andrew Boyers

November 25, 2021

By Alistair Smout and William Schomberg

London (Reuters)-The United Kingdom raised concerns on Thursday about a newly identified coronavirus variant spreading across South Africa that could reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine and jeopardize efforts to combat a pandemic.

According to the UK Health Security Agency, this variant, called B.1.1.529, contains a peaplomer that is dramatically different from the original coronavirus on which the COVID-19 vaccine is based.

“This is the most important variant we have ever encountered, and urgent research is underway to learn more about its infectivity, severity, and vaccine susceptibility,” said Jenny Harries, CEO of UKHSA. Said.

Although the variant was first identified earlier this week, the UK introduced travel bans in South Africa and five neighboring countries, acting much faster than the currently predominant Delta variant.

“What we know is that there are quite a few mutations, probably twice the number of mutations found in the Delta mutant,” Health Minister Sajid Javid told the broadcaster.

“And it would suggest that it is more contagious and the current vaccine we have may probably be less effective.”

The UK has temporarily banned flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini from 1200 GMT on Friday, saying that British travelers returning from these destinations will need to be quarantined. Announced.

Javid said he needed more data on the variant, but as a precautionary measure, travel restrictions were needed.

Scientists said laboratory research is needed to assess the potential for mutations that significantly reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Earlier Thursday, South African scientists said they were working to detect a small number of new COVID-19 variants and understand their potential effects.

This variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, but the UK Health and Safety Agency said the case was not detected in the UK.

Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said that B.1.1.529 has an “unprecedented” number of mutations in pesplomers, and the number of cases has increased rapidly in South Africa recently.

“Therefore, the government’s move to limit travel to South Africa is wise,” he said.

“But there are still no reliable estimates of whether B.1.1.529 is more contagious or more resistant to the vaccine, so it is time to provide an evidence-based assessment of that risk. It’s too early. Pose. “

(Report by Alistair Smout and William Schomberg, edited by Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Simao)

Britain warns of new COVID-19 variants in South Africa

Source link Britain warns of new COVID-19 variants in South Africa

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