UK health expert says no reason to think Covid variant from South Africa will become dominant strain

An military health employee prepares a dose of Covishield, AstraZeneca/Oxford’s Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine made by India’s Serum Institute, at a military hospital in Colombo on January 29, 2021.

ishara S. Kodikara | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the U.Okay.’s deputy chief medical officer, performed down the possibilities of a coronavirus variant from South Africa turning into widespread throughout the nation within the coming months.

His feedback, delivered at a information convention Monday night, comply with issues that the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford jab reveals restricted effectiveness in opposition to that exact strain, identified formally because the B.1.351 mutation.

“There is no reason to think the South African variant will catch up or overtake our current virus in the next few months,” Van-Tam mentioned referring to the U.Okay.’s mutation which was first present in southeast England.

He mentioned the “immediate threat” could be from the variant discovered within the U.Okay., which vaccines have proven to have extra effectiveness in opposition to.

South Africa mentioned Sunday it will droop the usage of the shot in its vaccination program after a research, which has not but peer-reviewed, discovered that the AstraZeneca vaccine supplied “minimal protection” in opposition to delicate to reasonable illness attributable to the mutation present in South Africa. Drugmaker AstraZeneca is now racing to adapt its Covid-19 vaccine within the face of the brand new variants.

Researchers from the University of Witwatersrand and others in South Africa, and the University of Oxford, famous that the research was small, involving solely round 2,000 volunteers who had a median age of 31.

Oxford University mentioned “protection against moderate-severe disease, hospitalization or death could not be assessed in this study as the target population were at such low risk.”

Van-Tam later added Monday that early modeling information doesn’t counsel a “transmissibility advantage” for the strain present in South Africa. He mentioned there have been small numbers of circumstances within the U.Okay. presently, reportedly 147 infections.

“I don’t think this is something we should be concerned about right at this point in time,” he mentioned.

— CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this text.

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