Brazil variant: Fears Covid-19 jab won’t be as effective as UK considers travel ban

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Officials do not know yet if the coronavirus vaccine will work as effectively with the South African and Brazilian variants of the virus.

The UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the jab would work just as well to immunise against the Covid-19 variant which was identified in the UK.

But he said "we don't know for sure" about the other two variants.

His comments came as Downing Street held a meeting to discuss "urgent measures" to restrict any spread of the Brazilian coronavirus variant.

Mr Vallance told ITV's Peston: "…[There's] no evidence yet for the UK version that it makes a difference in terms of how the immune system recognises it, and if you’ve been exposed to the old variant or you’ve had a vaccine, it looks like that’s gonna work just as well with this new variant for the UK one.

"The South African one and Brazilian one, we don’t know for sure.

The UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance
(Image: PA)

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"There’s a bit more of a risk that this might make a change to the way the immune system recognises it but we don’t know. Those experiments are underway.

"I think most people think if there's a change to the way vaccines work it's not going to be as an all or nothing. It may be that in some cases this diminishes a little bit but there's no evidence for that yet."

A third mutant strain of Covid-19 was detected in Brazil this week, following variants from the UK and South Africa.

Gravediggers burying a coronavirus victim in Brazil
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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The UK government was expected to ban travel from much of South America today – but has bizarrely pushed back a long-awaited requirement to get a negative Covid test by three more days.

Anyone arriving in England was going to have to get a coronavirus test, and ensure the result is negative, from 4am tomorrow.

But late last night, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the requirement would only kick in at 4am on Monday.

Experiments are underway (file photo)
(Image: PA)

During a visit to a mass vaccination centre in Stevenage, Labour leader Keir Starmer said: "It's a complete mess again. Priti Patel has talked tough about the borders but other countries have been doing testing for months and months.

"People are really worried about strains in other parts of the world, in Brazil, et cetera.

"Yet again we've got a Prime Minister and a Government that's late, slow and… they're putting testing back another few days.

"I think people will be bewildered and they will feel that we're exposed – there's a gap in our defences. We can't go on like this with delayed decisions not being made in a competent way."

Ministers have met to discuss "urgent measures" to restrict any spread of the Brazilian coronavirus variant, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "Ministers have met this morning to consider urgent measures to reduce the potential spread to the UK of the Brazilian variant."

An announcement is expected to follow the meeting.

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