A scientist who advises the government has warned that the South African variant which is spreading in two boroughs in London is “not good news.”
Professor Peter Openshaw who advises the government said that due to the spread of the South African variants we “could see lockdown easing reversed.”
The South African variant has been found in Lambeth and Wandsworth where 44 cases have been confirmed with a further 30 more probable infections, which has made scientists “very concerned.”
Speaking to Newsnight, Professor Openshaw said, “A lot of we scientists are very concerned about what’s happening at the moment.
“I think we’re all just hoping that the staged reduction in lockdown is going to be ok. It is being done reasonably cautiously but I think this is not good news.
“If we get rapid spread of the South African or other more resistant variants, it may well be that we are going to have to put the reductions of lockdown into reverse.”
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) warned the variant could become “more prevalent” if people are not careful.
Professor Harnden told Good Morning Britain, “We know from studies that none of the vaccines are as effective against the South African variant, though the vaccines still prevent against severe disease and death even with the South African variant.
“The problem is, they may not protect against infection which allows infection to transmit, and if we allow transmission through the community in large numbers with high infection rates then we could see other variants emerging.”
He added, “We’ve all been desperate for our freedoms and it has been great this week when we can get out to the pub gardens and enjoy the outside space – but we must not go wild.
“If we start going wild and completely ignore all the basic rules then we will see more transmission and things like the South African variant will become more prevalent.”
Boris Johnson warned that the UK will see a rise of infections over the coming months as easing locdown will “inevitably” lead to an increase in infections.