The South African coronavirus variant is ‘more problematic’ than the UK

On December 29, 2020, a Kovid-19 patient breathes oxygen in the Kovid-19 ward of Khayalitasha Hospital, 35 kilometers from the center of Cape Town.

Roder Bosch | AFP | Getty Images

A form of coronavirus known in South Africa is more problematic than the strain found in the UK, Britain’s health minister has said, as both strains spread rapidly.

Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the type seen in South Africa is special.

“I am incredibly concerned about the type of South Africa, and that is why we have taken steps to ban all flights from South Africa,” he told the BBC’s Today program.

“This is a very, very significant problem … and even more so than the new UK variant.”

Both the UK and South Africa are struggling with an increase in Kovid-19 infection, largely thanks to new mutations in the virus that make it more transmissible.

The new UK variant was first identified in December in Kent, southeast England. UK authorities have warned the World Health Organization of its emergence.

Experts note that while the new variant spreads the virus more easily, it does not appear to be more lethal. Still, UK hospitals are under pressure to see a dramatic increase in infections and admissions.

Vaccine effectiveness

Questions have been raised about how the coronavirus vaccine will work against new variants.

Many experts say they expect vaccines to protect against new strains – such as Pfizer and Bioentech, and Oxford University / AstraZeneca.

In early December, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told the BBC that the latest changes were unlikely to make the current vaccines work. “Further research is needed to understand the effect of specific mutations on viral properties and the effectiveness of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines,” the WHO said.

John Bell, a regis professor of medicine at Oxford University, said on Sunday that the known variable in South Africa was worrying.

“There’s a lot, a lot of change in both of them, so it’s not a change alone,” he told Times Radio. “And the changes associated with the South African form are actually very significant changes in the composition of the A (virus’ spike) protein.”

He said there were questions about whether the Pfizer / Bioentech and Oxford University / AstraZeneca vaccines would be “disabled” in the face of such a change.

While the team behind Oxford University was investigating the effects of the types on his vaccine, he said his gut feeling would still be effective against known stress in the UK, but was more vague about the person he identified. In South Africa.

However, he told the radio station that if the vaccine does not work on this type, it is possible that the vaccine may be adapted and it will not take as long as a year.

More lockdown

The coronavirus vaccine is the only bright spot in the epidemic that continues to rage in the West. On Monday, the UK launched the Ox Xford-AstraZeneca vaccine after the deployment of Pfizer / Bioentech shots in December.

Meanwhile, restrictions on public life continue and UK Prime Minister Boris Jones has hinted at imposing more sanctions in England. Many parts of the country are already effective under lockdown, with all necessary shops closed and people told to stay home as long as possible. Still, more sanctions could be brought to parts of the country with more lenient measures.

More than 2.6 million cases of the virus have now been reported in the UK and more than 75,000 people have died to date, according to Johns Hopkins University figures, and new types of the virus have been and continue to be present in London and the South East. Begins to appear in other parts of the country.

In South Africa, more than 1.1 million cases have been reported, and about 30,000 people have died, and new strains have become prevalent in the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Some European countries and the U.S. A variant originally identified in the UK has also been discovered, which has prompted many countries to ban flights from the UK, for its part, the UK has banned visitors from South Africa.