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The United Kingdom detected the South African variant of coronavirus among 11 people with no history of travel to the regions where the variant is currently circulating.
Owing to this discovery, mass testing is underway in the infected region. On Monday, the government announced that all infected people were self-isolating and that authorities had undertaken contact tracing to limit further transmission of the virus.
The authorities are undertaking testing across three different regions in the UK London, south-east, West Midlands, eastern England, and the North West. “Surge testing” would be undertaken, implying people with no symptoms will also be tested for the new variant to limit the spread.
“Every person over 16 living in these locations is strongly encouraged to take a Covid test this week, whether they are showing symptoms or not,” the government announced in a statement.
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In January, the government detected cases of the Brazilian and South African variants, but these cases were linked to travel. Since December 22, 105 cases of the South African variant have been identified in the country.
It is normal for viruses to mutate, and the same holds true for coronavirus. A variant was discovered first in the UK, which is thought not only to be more transmissible, but also more fatal.
While the world rushes to vaccinate its citizens, this has triggered fears of the vaccines not being effective enough. The South African variant seems to be more transmissible, but with no evidence of it being more severe.
Laboratory tests, however, have shown that the new variant reduces the efficacy of vaccines.
Studies undertaken for two coronavirus vaccines developed by Novavax and Johnson & Johnson showed that the vaccines had less ability to protect against sickness brought on by the South African variant.