Global authorities reacted with alarm to a new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa, with the European Union and Britain among those tightening border controls as scientists tried to find out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant, Reuters reported.
However, hours after Britain banned flights from South Africa and neighboring countries and asked travelers returning from there to quarantine, the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned against hasty measures.
The variant has a spike protein that is dramatically different to the one in the original coronavirus that COVID-19 vaccines are based on, the UK Health Security Agency said, raising fears about how current vaccines, successful against the more familiar Delta variant, will fare. (Spike proteins allow viruses to enter host cells.)
Britain and other European countries had already been expanding booster vaccinations and tightening curbs as the continent battles a fourth wave of the coronavirus, led by the delta variant, with many reporting record daily rises in cases.