Coronavirus UK news update – South Africa strain that could DERAIL lockdown lifting found in new area after covid tests

NEW cases of the feared South African coronavirus mutation have been confirmed in the UK.

Surge testing have been rolled out to the Sandwell area in the West Midlands to offer more tests to locals, after infections of the mutation which could threaten the UK’s lockdown lifting roadmap were discovered.

It comes as an expert warned the EU is heading for “disaster” after multiple countries decided to suspend their AstraZeneca vaccine rollout over unsubstantiated blood clot fears, an expert has warned.

Germany yesterday became the 14th country to suspend the jab following Netherlands, Ireland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Italy and Thailand.

And just an hour later France revealed it was shutting down its AstraZeneca rollout for 24 hours as well while the blood clot claims were looked into.

The evidence for such blood clotting appears to be patchy at best though and research in the UK suggests the vaccine has no discernible impact on the likelihood of developing a blood clot compared with not taking it.

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, this morning told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it is very clear that the benefits of being vaccinated at the moment so far outweigh the possible concern over this rather rare type of blood clot.

“I think it is a disaster for the vaccination uptake in Europe, which is already on slightly unsteady ground in some countries.”

Asked why he thought so many countries were pausing the rollout Professor Openshaw said: “I think the committees are probably afraid of not making that decision to pause on the basis that they might be in some way thought culpable if they didn’t, but actually these are such rare events.”

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on March 10 it would be investigating a spate of blood clotting cases in Europe.

But it later urged countries to continue vaccinating because the benefits of being protected outweigh any potential risk.

The UK medicine regulator – the MHRA – also says the jab is safe and encourages Brits to accept their offer of a vaccine when it arrives.

And the World Health Organisation also reiterated its guidance that the Oxford / Astra-Zeneca vaccine is safe.

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