Home > Health > UK Covid live news: Brazil variant may make foreign summer holidays impossible, ministers warned

UK Covid live news: Brazil variant may make foreign summer holidays impossible, ministers warned

Latest updates: UK officials face urgent calls for tougher border measures as the search continues for one of six people infected with Brazilian variant

9.47am GMT

On its website South Gloucestershire council has given details of where surge testing is taking place in response to the discovery of two cases of the P1 Brazil variant in the borough. Here are the postcode sectors where people are being asked to get tested:

BS32 0
BS32 8
BS32 9
BS34 5
BS34 6

9.44am GMT

Prof Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London, told Times Radio this morning that people should be “somewhat worried” about the discovery of the Brazilian variant P1 in the UK. Asked how worried people should be, he replied:

Somewhat worried but not total panic, perhaps.

It’s somewhat more worrying than the UK variant, the Kent variant, that we’re used to talking about, because it covers the double whammy, we think, of being more transmissible and somewhat better at evading neutralising antibodies.

It was expected that there would be quite a high level of protection there because analysis of antibodies in blood bank samples showed [Manaus] had one of the highest levels of immunity in the world coming into the second wave, perhaps more than 70%, and yet they’re seeing this enormous wave of reinfections.

So, if you put two and two together their assumption is that’s because the new variant is breaking through those antibodies. But if that hadn’t really been proven yet, it looks likely.

It is possible that the P1 variant will show similar patterns of antigenic escape [ie resistance to immunity] to vaccine-acquired immunity as the B1351 variant [the so-called South African varian], due to similar genomic profiles, in particular the presence of E484K. However, there remains no direct evidence for antigenic escape from vaccine-acquired immunity in the P1 variant.

9.13am GMT

Good morning. As my colleague Linda Geddes reports in our overnight story, the discovery of six cases of the highly transmissible Brazilian coronavirus variant in the UK – three in England, and three in Scotland – has revived concerns that the border controls imposed by the UK government are not tough enough. Her story is here.

Related: Alarm over delays in border measures as Brazil Covid variant hits UK

Cases of the Brazil variant now in the UK arrived a month after I first raised this issue with the PM.

People travelled on indirect flights – an issue I also raised with PM that day.

When it’s so important to protect vaccine programme, why has Govt been so slow to act? /1 https://t.co/64TM724MOS

Delays bringing in measures like hotel quarantine have made it easier for Brazil variants to spread across UK.

But even now 99% of arrivals aren’t covered by hotel quarantine as we heard this week.

And notable that tests up to 72hrs pre-flight didn’t catch these cases /2 https://t.co/Aj8Lpo0U2u

“three Scottish residents had flown to NE Scotland from Brazil via Paris & London”

Repeatedly I’ve asked Ministers why not test travellers on first arrival in UK before they go home on public transport (tube/train/plane)? Why do they refuse to do this? /3https://t.co/m2WsNWHgVC

You’re right, there is a concern about whether the government is raising expectations about summer holidays that they may not be able to meet, because this will depend on the relationship between the spread of these new variants and what happens with the vaccine, and the timetable about things like boosters for the vaccine.

And we’ve been advised on the committee by scientists that these border measures, and the strength of these border measures, becomes even more important as domestic cases fall. So as our own cases fall, and as the economy and society opens up, they argue that that’s when you actually need stronger measures at the border, rather than reducing them.

Related: Coronavirus live news: vaccine acceptance rising in UK, France and US; South Africa eases restrictions

Continue reading…