Beta variant in France ‘may evade effect of vaccines’

The Beta variant of coronavirus spreading in France poses a 'threat' to the UK, a scientist has warned.

Beta variant in France ‘may evade effect of vaccines’ ronstik via IStock
The Scottish Government says it is still considering the best approach in response to the new variant.

The Beta variant of coronavirus spreading in France poses a “threat” to the UK with evidence suggesting it may evade the effect of vaccines, a scientist has warned.

Professor John Edmunds, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said he could understand concerns over the variant that have led to last-minute travel rule changes.

It was announced on Friday evening that holidaymakers returning to England and Wales from France must continue to quarantine – even if they are double jabbed – when restrictions on other amber list countries are eased.

The Scottish Government says it is still considering the best approach for Scotland as it looks to adopt a four nation approach on international travel, where possible.

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Prof Edmunds told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: “The Beta variant has remained a threat throughout. It is probably less infectious than the Delta variant that is spreading here in the UK at the moment.

“Where it has an advantage is that it is able to escape the immune response to a better extent.”

He added: “As the population here becomes more and more immune, the conditions are right then for the Beta variant to get an advantage, so I can understand the concern.

“Of the variants that are out there and are known about, that one has always been a threat to us.

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“There is some good evidence from South Africa that it can evade the immune response generated by the AstraZeneca vaccine more efficiently.”