The UK health secretary cautioned that "we are not sure of this data" yet and said the variant is being tested at the government's Porton Down research facility, as well as in a clinical trial in South Africa to check the efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
It brings the total of cases of the United Kingdom variant in New Zealand to 29, and the total of the South African variant to seven.
After reflecting on the possibility of the South African variant spreading more easily, Sir Patrick commented on the coronavirus vaccines effectiveness against these variants.
British scientists and politicians have expressed concern that vaccines now being deployed or in development could be less effective against the variant. It has been the main driver of a second wave of national Covid-19 infections, which hit a new daily peak above 21,000 cases earlier this month.
Speaking to the media, the authors said that it is important for everyone right now to determine the neutralising ability of the antibodies against virus variants generated in response to vaccination and study the immune response in individuals infected with the same.
Earlier, South African researchers said that since vaccines induce a broad immune response it was unlikely that the mutations in the spike protein of the variant would completely negate their effect.
However, there's no evidence it's more likely to cause hospitalization or death, he said.
In addition, laboratories have ensured that they were able to quickly provide new versions of their vaccine if needed.
This is thought the South African variant escapes neutralization from antibodies as it features specific mutations on the viruses' spike protein, which the antibodies bind to. For example, they found, the antibodies could recognize and neutralize at least one of the mutations in the South African variant of the virus that has caused concern among health experts. If this is true at six months, as in this study, it is safe to assume it is probably still true for longer periods, he added.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 2 million lives. When researchers tracked outcomes of 8,515 COVID-19 patients admitted to 88 U.S. Veterans Affairs hospitals in 2020, they found that survival rates improved between March and August.
Open https://tmsnrt.rs/3a5EyDh in an external browser for a Reuters graphic on vaccines and treatments in development.