South African Covid variant: Symptoms, where is it and vaccine latest

1 February 2021, 13:12 | Updated: 8 February 2021, 14:36

The South African Covid variant has been discovered in Surrey with no link to travel
The South African Covid variant has been discovered in Surrey with no link to travel. Picture: Getty

By Zoe Adams

The South African Covid strain is on the rise in England and is proving problematic for the coronavirus vaccines. Here's everything you need to know about the variant including the latest Pfizer information and the postcodes it can be found.

The South African Covid variant was recently discovered in Surrey with no travel links to the country causing officials to carry out door to door testing in certain postcodes in order to learn more about the new virus.

Following the outbreak of the Brazil Covid variant, the UK version and now the South African, experts are doing all they can to find out more including mass testing in areas for those even without symptoms - especially now the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine has proven to be less effective against it.

Everything you need to know about the five confirmed coronavirus vaccines

So what is the South African Covid variant and what are the postcodes it's in? What are the symptoms? And do the coronavirus vaccines still work against this strain? Here’s what experts have said so far:

Coronavirus: Targeted home testing will be taking place in areas in Surrey
Coronavirus: Targeted home testing will be taking place in areas in Surrey. Picture: PA

What is the South African Covid variant?

It’s common for all viruses to mutate into new strains and variants, sometimes this leads to them becoming more infectious as we’ve seen with the latest Covid variant in the UK.

While experts are still studying the South African variant, and are likely to share their findings soon, so far there is no evidence to suggest it’s more serious or harmful - just for those who are elderly or have significant underlying health conditions as with the other strains.

It’s currently the dominant virus in East and West South Africa with other cases also being discovered in Austria, Norway and Japan.

In the UK, travel is now banned from countries in South Africa.

What are the symptoms of the South African Covid strain?

With little research into the new strain, experts have yet to identify if there are any new coronavirus symptoms to report.

As it stands, Covid symptoms, no matter what the variant, to look out for are a high temperature, a new continuous cough and loss or change to you senses. Please check the NHS website for the full list of symptoms.

Coronavirus vaccines are likely to still be effective against the South African variant
Coronavirus vaccines are likely to still be effective against the South African variant. Picture: PA

What postcodes is the South African variant in?

At the moment, eight areas are being encouraged to with mass door to door testing. These areas are:

Hanwell, Wes London

Tottenham, North London

Mitcham, South London

Walsall, West Midlands

Broxbourne, Hertfordshire

Maidstone, Kent

Woking, Surrey

Southport, Merseyside

Does the Covid vaccine still work against the new South African variant?

Research is very limited on the matter but Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are currently looking into any impact the new strain might have on the vaccine.

AstraZeneca have confirmed their vaccine is so far proving less effective against the South African strain but have suggested this could be managed with a third booster dose later in the year.

Many more tests need to be completed but scientists have said it is extremely unlikely mutations will make the Covid vaccines completely useless, it may just be that the human immune response may not be as strong or prolonged.