Matt Hancock said all 77 cases were connected to travel from South Africa and were under close observation, as were nine identified cases of a Brazilian variant. “They are under very close observation, and we have enhanced contact tracing to do everything we possibly can to stop them from spreading,” he said during an interview on BBC television.
Oxford professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of a scientific committee on vaccination that advises the government, said the South African and Brazilian variants were of concern because Covid-19 vaccines may not be effective against them. “The new variants abroad are a real worry. The South African and the Brazilian Amazonian ones, there are hints that there will be vaccine escape,” he said on Sky News, adding that new variants would keep appearing around the world.