Minister warns new alternative to Covid ‘could defeat vaccine’

Boris Johnson’s government and top scientific advisers have concerns that the new Corona virus disease The alternative could “knock out the vaccine,” a government minister warned.

South Africa It is one of six countries added to England’s Travel Red List after the alarm was raised about the B.1.1.529 variant, which has been described as “the worst country we’ve seen so far”.

Minister of Transport Grant Shaps Ministers said they wanted a “safety first” approach to the alternative due to concerns it might be able to evade protections from existing vaccines.

“We cannot take a risk when we see an alternative that could defeat the vaccine – or at least that is the concern – and we need a little time to verify that,” the minister told the BBC. breakfast.

Mr Shapps said ministers acted quickly to introduce changes to travel after an emergency meeting with top medical officials on Thursday – saying there was “concern” about the “very rapid” spread of the variant.

He added: “This gives us some time for scientists to work on genome sequencing, which involves growing cultures – it takes several weeks – until we can see how important this particular variant is. It’s a safety first approach.”

Flights from South Africa will be banned between 12pm on Friday and 4am on Sunday while hotel accommodations are being prepared for quarantine.

Asked if people should take a PCR test after returning from South African countries, Mr. Shapps said: “We’ve asked them to. It’s unlikely, given that this is only new… We don’t expect people who have returned before now. They will get it.”

He added: “The concern about this particular species is that it spreads very quickly, its growth rate is very fast, and we think the problem may (start) from now, so we are asking people to quarantine, isolate themselves when they get home.”

The UK has no known cases of B.1.1.529 – it is expected to be named a ‘Nu’ variant in the coming days – but about 60 cases have been confirmed in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has classified it as a “variable under investigation”. The agency’s chief executive, Dr. Jenny Harris, said: “This is the most critical option we have faced to date, and urgent research is underway.”

It was also described by Susan Hopkins, UKHSA’s chief medical advisor, as the “most worrying” variant so far seen during the pandemic.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that the European Union was also aiming to halt air travel from southern Africa amid growing concerns about the new form discovered there.

“The Commission will propose, in close coordination with Member States, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the Southern African region due to the variable of concern B.1.1.529,” she said in a tweet.

The World Health Organization is holding a meeting of experts from Geneva on Friday to assess the new variant and work to determine whether it should be designated a “variable of interest” or a “variable of concern”.

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