The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer has warned the government that it is important to “secure our borders” as the Oxford vaccine may not be effective.
Sir Keir warned that the South African variant is the “biggest risk at the moment” as the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab could be less effective against the new variant.
Speaking to reporters in Thurrock, Essex, the Labour leader told reporters on Monday, “I think the South African variant is the single biggest risk at the moment. It’s very important therefore that we secure our borders.
“We have known about the South African variant for some time.
“If you can believe it, it’s going to be 50 days from knowing about the variant to border restrictions, quarantining in hotels, coming in.”
The Labour leader added, “Add to that, and this is probably the most significant thing, a number of other countries we now know have the South African variant, and they are not even in the government scheme for quarantining in hotels.
“This is leaving a back door open at a vital stage in the battle against the virus.”
Professor Mike Tildesley of Sage warned that even with “high levels of vaccination” many people could still become infected.
He warned that it is “very possible” the South African variant has already spread across the UK as 147 cases have already been identified, whilst experts are warning that this is likely to be just the “tip of the iceberg.”
Professor Tildesley told BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, “It means that even with high levels of vaccination there will be a lot of people that could potentially get infected and could potentially pass it on and it may mean that more restrictions might be needed for longer if we can’t get on top of this.”