UK SHOULD be scared of South African mutant Covid strain – it's ripped through my country like wildfire, warns patient
A SOUTH African Covid patient has warned Brits SHOULD be scared of the mutant strain that ripped through his country like wildfire.
Chris Bateman watched on in horror as the virus saw patients flood into “jam packed” wards and pushed hospitals “to their limits”.
The former editor of the South African Medical Journal says he feels 'lucky' to have passed Covid during the first wave as the new variant is 50% more infectious than the original.
Explaining how the new mutation that was first detected in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, last October, has affected his country, he says that apart from the healthcare system the country's economy has also taken a serious hit.
And despite the country's easing of the measures and opening up parks and beaches, he says the impact of the new variation is still noticeable.
He told Mirror: "The UK is right to be wary of it.
"ICUs are still mostly full, our healthcare workers, many of whom are suffering near-burnout, hundreds of whom lost their lives, don’t feel much safer.
"The increased fear this time round is noticeable – in my social circle alone. Fewer people are risk-taking and there is more hygiene compliance."
And while the country has had the delivery of the first batch of one million Astra-Zeneca vaccines, Mr Bateman says South Africans are still worried about the vaccine's effectiveness towards the new strain.
Although it's obvious the new mutation has taken a toll on South Africa, experts suggest it is unlikely to become dominant in the UK over the coming months.
England's deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam,said that the South African mutation did not enjoy a 'transmissibility advantage' over other variants, unlike the strain which emerged last year in Kent.
He added that it was 'likely' the existing vaccines would be effective in preventing serious illness in people who became infected with the new South African strain.
He said: "Early data … does not suggest the South African variant has a distinct transmissibility advantage over our current virus.
"Because of that there is no reason to think that the South African variant will catch up or overtake our current virus in the next few months.
"Our immediate threat is from our current virus and there is now plenty of evidence that the vaccines that we are deploying are effective against our current virus."
However he did mention people in high risk groups might need an additional booster jab as the vaccines were updated to cope with new mutations of the virus.
"You can be re-vaccinated and we are taking a lot of steps behind the scenes to ensure that we can be in that position," he said.
"Just as variations to the virus were inevitable, it 's almost inevitable that we would at some point need variations to the vaccine. This is not a big fright, it is not a big surprise."
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