Travel ban over Brazilian variant precautionary, UK transport minister says - REUTERS
LONDON (Reuters) - A Brazilian variant of the coronavirus is significant enough to justify stopping flights from South America as a precaution, British transport minister Grant Shapps said on Friday, as a leading scientist said it had been detected in Britain.
Britain will ban arrivals from South American countries and Portugal because of concerns over a new Brazilian variant of the coronavirus.
The Brazilian variant shares some characteristics with those found in Britain and South Africa, which are believed by scientists to be more transmissible but not to cause more severe disease.
â€œAs with the variant that we saw in Kent (southern England)or the one in South Africa, itâ€™s significantly enough of interest to us just to take this precautionary approach of stopping all those flights from Brazil (and) South America,â€ Shapps told Sky News.
â€œOur scientists arenâ€™t saying that the vaccine wonâ€™t work against it... (but) we do not want to be tripping up at this last moment (of vaccine rollout) which is why I took the decision as an extra precaution to ban those flights.â€
Shapps later said scientists believed vaccines would work on the Brazilian variant, going further than the governmentâ€™s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance.
Vallance on Wednesday said there wasnâ€™t evidence vaccines wouldnâ€™t work but said the Brazilian variant was more of a risk and â€œwe donâ€™t knowâ€ if it would affect the immune response.
A leading British virologist said the Brazilian variant had been traced in Britain.
â€œThere are two different types of Brazilian variants and one of them has been detected (in the UK) and one of them has not,â€ Wendy Barclay, virologist at Imperial College London, told journalists, adding it was â€œearly daysâ€ in the understanding of the variants.
Along with UK and South African variants, the Brazilian variant is â€œof concernâ€ and would be â€œtraced very carefully,â€ she said.
Reporting by Alistair Smout and Kate Kelland; editing by Michael Holden and James Davey