As a third wave crushes over South America – and the EU is seeing a resurgence of Covid cases – the Brazilian variant of concern, P1, is rising in numbers across the UK. Public Health England (PHE) has sourced the worrying strain in the West Midlands and Haringey, north London. Amidst travel restrictions, both Covid cases have been linked to international travel to Brazil.
The case in West Midlands follows the infected person’s arrival at Birmingham Airport.
As part of the managed hotel quarantine, when the person tested positive for the virus, they had to self isolate.
“The London case was picked up through surge testing,” added PHE, and as a response, surge testing will be stepped up in the affected area.
“Contact tracing teams have undertaken a comprehensive investigation to identify any further contacts,” PHE said.
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“PHE and international partners continue to monitor the situation closely,” the organisation emphasised.
What does this mean for the UK vaccination programmme?
Researchers from the University of Oxford have said that “the P1 ‘Brazilian’ strain may be less resistant” to the vaccine than first feared.
This conclusion arises from a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study from the team at Oxford University, as reported by The Independent.
The research team examined the impact of natural and vaccine-induced antibodies on different coronavirus strains, including P1.
Although the vaccine didn’t work as well against the variants as the original coronavirus strain, it was still effective.
The university commented: “[This] data suggest that natural and vaccine-induced antibodies can still neutralise these variants, but at lower levels.
“Importantly, the P1 ‘Brazilian’ strain may be less resistant to these antibodies than first feared.”
Other strains tested were the Kent and South Africa strain – two other variants of concern.
All three coronavirus strains were mainly neutralised by the Oxford or Pfizer vaccines.
While there may be a hiccup in the supply of Covid vaccines come April, the UK Government has said we are still on target.
Meanwhile, there has been international concern over the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab due to blood clots.
However, European countries have now resumed vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine after the European Medicines Agency said it was safe.