Australia Will Not Shut Borders To UK Despite New Coronavirus Strain
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Australia won't be changing its rules around international arrivals after a new strain of the coronavirus was detected in the UK.
The mutant strain has been suggested to be 70 per cent more contagious than the one discovered more than a year ago in China.
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said while it's a concern that people from Britain are allowed to come to our shores and complete hotel quarantine, the new strain won't cause a ban on UK arrivals.
"We don't believe there's any reason to change our border arrangements in relation to people coming from the UK," Professor Kelly said.
"Our view is that this is a concern in the UK. But here in Australia, we have our ways of dealing with people coming from overseas in terms of our hotel quarantine system, and that has been extremely effective, extremely effective in controlling any virus that may be coming from other parts of the world."
There have been at least four people arrive in Australia with the new strain.
They have quarantined at a hotel like everyone else and won't be allowed to leave until they test negative.
Despite the variant causing issues in the UK, it's not believed to of any concern here in Australia.
Professor Kelly said: "There is no evidence at the moment that it has any effect on the severity of the illness from the virus. There is no evidence at the moment that it interferes with the vaccine.
"There is no evidence at the moment that it interferes with diagnostic tests."
The boss of pharmaceutical company BioNTech is 'scientifically confident' the coronavirus vaccine already produced will combat the new strain.
Ugur Sahin said: "We don't know at the moment if our vaccine is also able to provide protection against this new variant.
"But scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variants.
"We will know it only if the experiment is done and we will need about two weeks from now to get the data. The likelihood that our vaccine works...is relatively high."
His confidence is based off the idea that 99.9 per cent of the new strain is the same as the original virus.
If it's found the vaccine doesn't work against the new strain, Mr Sahin believes his company could whip up a new vaccine in about six weeks.
This specific vaccine has been authorised for use in 45 countries, including Britain, the United States and countries in the European Union.
Featured Image Credit: PA