Fears that Covid vaccines will not work against South Africa’s new strain of the virus have prompted the introduction of testing for newcomers to England and Scotland from overseas, Transport Secretary Grant said. Shapps.
Describing the new testing regime for England and Scotland, he said: “It’s an extra check and we are doing it now because there are these variants that we want to keep out of the country, like the southern variant. -African for example.
“There are concerns about the South African vaccine in particular, about the vaccine’s effectiveness against it, so we just can’t take any chances. So, today, because of this variant, it has become much more urgent.
But Shapps’ comments came as research showed Pfizer’s vaccine protects against new strains of the virus detected in the UK and South Africa.
In the study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, blood samples were taken from 20 people who received the Pfizer vaccine. Laboratory studies revealed that the samples had neutralizing levels of antibodies that worked against the new strains.
Shapps confirmed that newcomers will continue to be required to self-isolate for 10 days, as well as show proof of a negative Covid test, unless they are traveling from countries deemed safe by the government.
He said: ‘If you come here from anywhere, whether you are British or foreign, you will need to take a Covid test up to 72 hours before coming here. It doesn’t change the other things that you will have to do, in other words, quarantine, if you are coming from a place that is not in the travel lane. ”
Shapps also predicted that Wales and Northern Ireland would introduce testing for newcomers in the coming days. “I suspect this will be a UK-wide requirement from some point next week,” he said.
He warned that testing newcomers would not pick up everyone with the virus.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually detect the majority of asymptomatic cases, so what solves the problem is isolation or quarantine. This is the thing that is always the gold standard and again, I’m afraid I’m part of the solution here.
Shapps has defended the government against claims it should have closed the border before, saying the UK, as an island, needs the movement of goods and people.
“Look at what happened in the United States, for example, where last March they closed the border entirely,” he said. “It didn’t help them at all, not one iota.”