A CORONAVIRUS variant from South Africa is highly infectious and current Covid-19 vaccines may not be effective against it, experts warn. The UK
A CORONAVIRUS variant from South Africa is highly infectious and current Covid-19 vaccines may not be effective against it, experts warn.
The UK’s health secretary Matt Hancock on Monday said the South African variant, 501.Y.V2, presents a “very, very significant problem,” according to the Daily Mail.
No cases of the new variant have been reported in the US thus far—but that does not mean it is not already in the country.
The variant has become dominant in South Africa and been found in at least four other countries including the United Kingdom.
Hancock said the South African variant is much more worrisome than the UK coronavirus strain, B117.
On Sunday, a UK government coronavirus adviser said a “big question mark” remained around whether the current Covid-19 vaccine could provide immunity against the new strain.
The South African variant is believed to be highly infectious[/caption]
John Bell, Oxford University’s regius chair of medicine, said that coronavirus jabs may not work on the South African variant because it has “pretty substantial changes in the structure of the protein.”
The US was late in detecting the UK coronavirus strain.
When the US identified it last week, it was already spreading in Colorado.
On Monday, a 60-year-old man living in Saratoga County, New York, was found to have the UK variant.
No cases of the South African variant have been recorded in the US[/caption]
The man had not traveled recently, according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, meaning possible community spread of the UK variant.
Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday confirmed that that four people in San Diego had the UK strain, in addition to two people in San Bernardino.
The UK variant has also been found in Florida.
Experts fear the Covid-19 vaccine may be ineffective against the South African variant[/caption]
Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb on Sunday said the UK strain represents about one percent of infections in the country but warned that “by March, it’s going to be the majority of new infections.”
“It’s going to grow quickly,” he said on CBS’ Face the Nation.
Gottlieb also said that the US’s plan to administer Covid-19 vaccines to Americans is not moving at a quick enough pace.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is working to boost the number of coronavirus genome sequencing samples per week from 3,000 to about 6,500.
So far, the US has submitted 57,000 genome sequences to an international GISAID database which is designed to help scientists track how viruses morph.
The US has sequenced only 0.3 percent of all genome samples from its more than 20million Covid-19 cases, ranking 43rd in the world.