Coronavirus vaccines may work less on variants: UK health minister

Photo: REUTERS
The UK’s heath minister warned that coronavirus vaccines may be less effective against new variants of the disease, such as those found in South Africa and Brazil, and that stricter border controls are therefore justified.

 

“We don’t know the degree of that,” Matt Hancock said in an interview on Sky News on Sunday, commenting on the extent of any potential reduced efficacy of the vaccines. “In the meantime, we’ve got to have a precautionary principle that says let’s not bring these new variants back to the UK”

 

Hancock’s warning came as the U.K. reported it had vaccinated more than 5 million people, including three-quarters of those over 80. Hancock said the government is conducting a vaccine trial on the South African variant to study its response to the inoculation, and that he’s concerned about new variants developing elsewhere.

 

There are 77 known cases of the South African variant in Britain, and at least 9 cases of the Brazilian variant, Hancock said.

 

Meanwhile, one of England's leading medical officers on Sunday urged the public to continue to follow the strict lockdown rules because any vaccine-related immunity from Covid-19 takes at least three weeks to kick in.

 

Drug firms must fulfill vaccine contracts: EU

 

The president of the European Council vowed to make drug companies fulfill their vaccine contracts with EU countries, but acknowledged it will be hard for the bloc to meet its goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of the adult population by late summer.

 

He said EU officials “pounded our fist on the table” with Pfizer last week to ensure the delays end by this coming week.



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