UK complete of 170 circumstances of South Africa Covid variant ‘reassuring’ | World information
Public Health England has uncovered a total of 170 confirmed or probable cases of the South Africa variant of coronavirus that appears less susceptible to vaccines.
Routine and surge testing revealed 151 cases in England, six in Scotland and 13 in Wales, according to Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE’s strategic response director, who described the numbers as “reassuring” because they suggest the variant has not taken hold in the UK.
Scientists are keeping a watchful eye on the South Africa variant, named B1351 or 501YV2, because it could undermine efforts to contain the epidemic with vaccines should it spread more widely. Of the 170 cases, 18 are not linked to international travel, suggesting they were caught in the community.
This week, South Africa paused its rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after the results from a small trial in young people, yet to be published, suggested the jab prevented only 10% of mild or moderate disease caused by the variant.
Public health officials significantly increased testing in parts of the UK last week in a bid to halt the community spread of the South Africa variant and others that are causing concern because of the mutations they carry. Among them are cases of the Kent variant that have evolved a key mutation, E484K, seen in the South African variant and another known as P1 from Brazil. The mutation helps the virus evade the immunity conferred by past infection or vaccination.