The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is no evidence that the variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in South Africa is more contagious than the one in the United Kingdom.

South Africa and the UK are currently battling different variants of the virus which have fuelled infections. Research is also being conducted into both variants to better understand their mutations, as vaccine campaigns get underway in both countries, with South Africa expecting vaccine doses by the second quarter of 2021.

WHO’s Technical Chief on COVID-19 Maria Van Kerkhove, says the preliminary studies indicate no evidence that the South African variant is worse than the UK variant.

Kerkhove says, “There are many studies underway in South Africa by researchers and scientists to look at the circulation of this variant, to look at its transmissibility looking through epidemiology studies and modelling studies as well as doing laboratory studies to look at neutralisation studies. So, those are ongoing and scientists are working very hard to understand that.”

“There’s no indication that is more or less transmissible than the variant of concern that was identified in the United Kingdom,” added Van Kerkhove.

STREAM: WHO COVID-19 UPDATE

Meanwhile, another COVID-19 lockdown has been implemented across England.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the restrictions are needed to control the new variant of the coronavirus.

Johnson says people should stay at home except for a handful of reasons such as medical appointments and essential shopping.

SA-UK relations under spotlight