New variant of Covid poses ‘substantial risk to public health’ and could escape vaccines

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned the new strain may be more infectious than Delta and vaccines may be less effective against it





A new variant of Covid poses a “substantial risk to public health” and jabs may be less effective, Sajid Javid has warned.

The Health Secretary delivered an update to the Commons after the UK announced it was suspending flights from six southern African countries on Thursday evening amid fears over the B.1.1.529 strain .



Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said UK is “buying time” by adding South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia to its travel red list, with arrivals doomed to stay in quarantine hotels from 4 a.m. on Sunday.

British health authorities are scrambling to identify people who have arrived in the UK in recent days from these countries.

Mr Javid told MPs: “We are concerned that this new variant poses a substantial risk to public health. The variant has an unusual number of mutations.”






Sajid Javid makes statement to Parliament on new variant of Covid

Early indications show that current vaccines “may be less effective against him” and that they may be more transmissible, he said.

There are currently no cases of the new strain in the UK, but Mr Javid said it was very likely it has started to spread to other countries.

This breaking story is currently being updated.

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