LONDON (REUTERS) – British scientists expressed concern on Monday (Jan 4) that Covid-19 vaccines being rolled out in Britain may not be able to protect against a new variant that emerged in South Africa and has spread internationally.
Both Britain and South Africa have detected new, more transmissible variants of the Covid-19-causing virus in recent weeks that have driven a surge in cases.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday he was now very worried about the variant identified in South Africa.
Public Health England said there was currently no evidence to suggest that vaccines will not be effective against the new variant. The health ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.
The following countries are among those that have reported variants of the novel coronavirus, first identified in China a year ago, among their populations.
* The UNITED STATES reported three cases of the variant B.1.1.7, originally documented in Britain, in Colorado, California and Florida.
* SWITZERLAND has documented five cases of the variant from Britain and two cases of the South African mutation, a health ministry official said, adding he anticipates more cases will emerge.
* DENMARK has identified 33 infections with the variant spreading in Britain.
* FRANCE, with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the European Union, recorded its first case of a variant in a Frenchman arriving back from London.
* INDIA has found 38 cases of the variant found in Britain.
* JAPAN detected the variant found in South Africa, the government said, the first such discovery in a nation that has already identified more than a dozen cases of the variant spreading in Britain.
* SOUTH KOREA said the variant found in Britain was found in three people who had entered South Korea from London on Dec 22. Officials vowed to speed up vaccinations.
* Self-ruled TAIWAN, claimed by neighbouring China, confirmed its first case of the variant discovered in Britain, a traveller from the UK.
* NORWAY said the variant circulating in Britain had been detected in 23 people, while the variant circulating in South Africa had been detected in one person.
* AUSTRIA has found four cases of the coronavirus mutation first detected in Britain and one case of the South African mutation, Franz Allerberger of public health agency AGES told a news conference on Monday.
* AUSTRALIA said two travellers from the United Kingdom were carrying the variant found in Britain.
* TURKEY has banned Britons from entering the country after detecting 15 cases of the new variant in travellers from Britain, the government said.
* GREECE has detected four cases of the variant in people who recently travelled from Britain, a Health Ministry official said.
* CYPRUS has discovered 12 cases of the variant in people who recently travelled from Britain.
* Health officials in IRELAND said increased socialising around Christmas – and not a new variant – had driven a surge in infections. Prime Minister Micheál Martin said on Wednesday the highly infectious new variant discovered in Britain was spreading in Ireland at a rate that has surpassed the most pessimistic models available to the government.
* JORDAN has detected its first two cases of the variant spreading in Britain.
* GERMANY said the variant from Britain had been found in a passenger flying to Frankfurt from London on Dec 20. It seems to have been present in Germany since November, the Die Welt daily reported.
* ITALY detected a patient infected with the variant found in Britain, the health ministry said.
* The variant linked to Britain has been detected on the island of Madeira in PORTUGAL, the regional civil protection authority said.
* Health officials in FINLAND said the variant circulating in Britain has been detected in two people, while the variant spreading in South Africa has been detected in one person.
* SWEDEN said the variant circulating in Britain had been detected after a traveller from Britain fell ill on arrival and tested positive.
* Officials in CANADA said that two confirmed cases of the variant detected in the United Kingdom had appeared in the Canadian province of Ontario.
* CHILE said it had recorded its first case of the British variant.
* LEBANON detected its first case of a variant of the coronavirus on a flight arriving from London.
* UNITED ARAB EMIRATES discovered a “limited number” of cases of people infected with a new variant, a government official said. Those affected had travelled from abroad, without specifying from where or the number of cases.
* SINGAPORE confirmed its first case of the variant found in Britain, the patient arriving from Britain on Dec 6, while 11 others who were already in quarantine had returned preliminarily positive results. Singapore was seeking to verify two others suspected of being infected by the variant.
* ISRAEL detected four cases of the coronavirus emerging in Britain. Three of the cases were returnees from England.
* The variant spreading in Britain appears to have infected two students who returned to HONG KONG from Britain, the Department of Health said.
* PAKISTAN health officials said the variant found in Britain had been detected in the southern province of Sindh.
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