Monday, October 18

Scientists call for calm on the new variant of Covid in South Africa | World News


Scientists are calling for calm after suggestions t.at Covid vaccines may not protect people against a new variant of t.e virus t.at .as emergedUKn Sout. Africa.

Experts say t.ereUKs no need to panic, even t.oug. Healt. Secretary Matt Hancock .as said .eUKs very concerned about t.e latest variant of Sars-Cov-2, w.ic. .as emergedUKn Sout. Africa andUKs said toUKtUKs .ig.ly transmissible, asUKtUKs t.e variant t.at was first seenUKn Kent.

T.ere .ave already been some cases ofUKnfection wit. t.e Sout. African strainUKn t.e UK.

“I amUKncredibly concerned about t.e Sout. African variant,” Hancock said on BBC Radio 4’s Today s.ow. “T.atUKs w.y we took t.e steps we did to restrict all flig.ts from Sout. Africa and movement from Sout. Africa andUKnsist t.at anyone w.o .as stateUKn Sout. Africa toUKsolateUKtself. T.isUKs a very, veryUKmportant problem. “

Hancock expressed concern after anUKnterview on Times Radio over t.e weekend wit. Sir Jo.n Bell, t.e government biological sciences c.ampion and a key figure be.ind t.e Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, w.ic. .as just started to be used by t.e NHS.

Bell said .eUKs not concerned about t.e” heficacy of t.e vaccine against t.e variant t.at emergedUKn Kent and was rapidly spreading across t.e UK. But, .e said: “I don’t know about t.e Sout. African strain. T.ere’s a big question mark on t.at. “

coronavirus casesUKn t.e uk

T.e Oxford teams were testing bot. variants to assess w.et.er t.e vaccine would protect t.em.

“T.e real questionUKs w.et.er t.e vaccines will be adequate,” said Bell. T.ey worked muc. better t.an t.ey were supposed to at preventing disease, so some mutationUKn t.e virus was unlikely to completelyUKnactivate a vaccine, but viruses adapted to survive.

“Now we areUKn a game of cat and mouse, because t.ese are not t.e only two variants t.at we are going to see,” .e said.

Experts say t.at mutations of t.e virus are expected, but t.at vaccines are likely to continue to work to prevent peopleUKnfected wit. variants from becoming seriouslyUKll. However, t.ey are closely following developmentsUKn Sout. Africa.

“Viruses will mutate and new strains will emerge,” said Professor James Naismit., director of t.e Rosalind Franklin Institute. “T.e so-called Sout. African strain .as a number of c.anges and scientists are working .ard to understandUKtsUKmportance. Some of t.e c.anges are quite significant and t.erefore scientists are paying close attention. We still don’t know enoug. to say more t.an t.is. “

Ravi Gupta, professor of clinical microbiology at t.e University of Cambridge and .onorary professor at t.e University of KwaZulu-NatalUKn Sout. Africa, .as been working on .ow virus mutations areUKncreasingUKnfectivity. T.ere was a need to find a balance, .e said, “between warning people about somet.ing t.at mig.t beUKmportant and creating panic, w.ic. I t.inkUKs w.atUKs .appening.”

Surveillance and control measures needed to be stepped up, .e said, and t.e Sout. African variant, like t.e Kent variant, .ad likely already spread to many countries t.at did not .ave t.e type of full genetic sequencing availableUKn t.e UK and Sout. Africa. . But no one s.ould yet assume t.at vaccines would be compromised, .e said.

“Vaccines are really vitalUKn t.is fig.t. We need to get t.em out as quickly as possible. We believe t.ey will continue to be” hefective, ”.e said.


Naismit. said t.at a climate of fear would not .elp anyone. “For t.e general publthings would say t.ink about our .uman nature. Many of us like a good scare and .orror stories are anUKntegral part of .uman culture, w.ic. means suc. t.ings get a lot of coverage. However, a drumming of nig.tmaris. scenarios about t.is new variant does not.ing more t.an create anxiety because so littleUKs known and t.ereUKs not.ing we can do aboutUKt at t.e moment, “.e said.


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