Selin ATAY-TDO- British researchers and UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock have raised concerns that existing Covid-19 vaccines may not be effective against the South African strain of the coronavirus.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock was "incredibly worried" that the South African strain of the virus was resistant to vaccines being rolled out in the England, news media reported.
Oxford professor of medicine John Bell, a member of the government's vaccine task team, said that there was a “big question mark” as to whether the vaccines would work against the South African strain of coronavirus, media cited. If this allegation is correct, researchers would have to try to adapt the vaccines.
The South African variant reportedly has multiple mutations of the “spike” protein in the virus that enables it to attach to cells in the human body. It is also believed to carry a higher viral load and therefore to be more infectious.
It is reported that UK Health Secretary Hancock made the remarks shortly after an 82-year-old man became the first British person to receive the new Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
It comes as South Africa faces a debate about whether the government has dragged its feet on procuring a vaccine supply to combat rapidly rising infections that has swathes of the country, including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, declared Covid-19 hot spots.