Vaccines may be less effective against new COVID variant, experts warn

There has been a spike in COVID-19 infections reported in Gauteng especially in Tshwane among young people.

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JOHANNESBURG - Health experts are warning that it is possible that the COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective against the new variant detected in South Africa, but it doesn't mean that they won't protect people against severe illness.

There has been a spike in COVID-19 infections reported in Gauteng especially in Tshwane among young people.

It’s not yet clear what the impact of the new confirmed variant B.1.1.529 will have on the potential fourth wave of infections.

Wits professor of vaccinology Shabir Madhi said even if there is a resurgence in the number of COVID-19 cases with the new variant B.1.1.529 it doesn't mean there will be a high number of hospitalisations and deaths.

“Hospitalisation rate and death rate will very likely much more subdued than the course we have experienced in the last three waves because of the vaccine.”

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The health department's acting DG Nicholas Crisp said it’s extremely important now that those who are not yet vaccinated get their jab.

“We have to protect ourselves because you just need one of you to carry the virus and spread it.”

There are concerns that the new variant could spread faster, but it remains to be seen if government will consider imposing stricter lockdown regulations again just before Christmas.