UK Medical Officer downplays threat of South African COVID variant

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam downplayed the threat of the South African variant amid concerns over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In a press briefing on Monday, he said: “there is no reason to think the South African variant will catch up or overtake our current virus in the next few months.”

Professor Van-Tam spoke in a press briefing on Monday evening where he reassured the public that the South African variant would not become the UK’s dominant strain | Source: Guardian News

He instead pointed to the imminent threat of the UK’s own strain that was discovered in December of 2020. Vaccines have proven effective against this variant, and the UK has one of the highest global vaccination rates.

South Africa

These concerns came after South Africa ceased the application of the AstraZeneca jab after a study found it only offered mild immunity.

However, the Universities of Witwatersrand and Oxford have noted that the study may have been inaccurate, as there were only 2000 volunteers with an average age of 31.

Case numbers in both countries

The UK is seeing a gradual decrease in cases after a third strict national lockdown implemented the day before New Year’s Eve and a robust vaccination program. However, the national death rate remains relatively high, as the English strain was found to be ~30% more fatal.

UK Coronavirus cases | Image: Google

South Africa is seeing a sharp decrease in number of daily cases.

Coronavirus cases South Africa | Image: Google

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