Covid vaccine warning: Single shot of Pfizer jab may not fight off South African strain

UK seeing 'decline in coronavirus infections' says expert

The South African strain has a mutation on its spike protein that researchers fear will prove resistant to the vaccines currently deployed. A new study has cemented these concerns. Research conducted by Cambridge University found that a single shot of the Pfizer jab might not stimulate a robust enough immune response to eradicate the new strain in over-80s.

Scientists have suggested the E484K mutation on the South African variant’s spike protein, which it uses to bind to human cells, could elude the vaccine by hiding from the body’s natural defences.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses to offer maximimum protection against the pathogen.

The first dose helps the immune system activate a response against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The second dose further tops up the immune response to confer long-term protection.

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South Africa strain – what we know so far

Health officials have confirmed 11 people – who have no links to travel – have tested positive for the South African Covid-19 variant across England in the last five or six days.

The strain has been identified in parts of Kent, London, Surrey the Midlands and Hertfordshire.

In a bid to check the spread of the new variant, the government has rolled out a targeted testing campaign.

On-the-spot doorstep tests, home testing kits and mobile testing units will be deployed in eight areas.

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Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said he wanted to “come down hard” on the variant.

The enhanced testing programme aims to reach 80,000 people in a bid to contain the new strain.

Matt Hancock urged everyone over 16 in the targeted areas to take up the offer of a test whether they have symptoms or not – and even if they have been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the UK variant has undergone another mutation, scientists said on Tuesday.

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