Door-to-door testing for the CCP virus is being expanded to more local areas of England, as authorities try to stamp out local occurrences of the South African variant.
Authorities say that postcode areas in Manchester, Norfolk, Southampton, and Surrey have been added to the list of “surge testing” for that variant of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus.
Local surge testing was introduced at specific locations across the UK two weeks ago, following the discovery of the first cases of community transmission of the South African variant, which is thought to be more resistant to some vaccines.
“People living within these targeted areas are strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 test this week, whether they are showing symptoms or not,” the government said in a statement.
As well as monitoring and suppressing the spread, the government hopes that the surge testing will also provide a clearer understanding of the strain.
Public Health England (PHE) said that there is no evidence that the South Africa variant is more harmful or serious.
However, several studies do suggest vaccines are less effective against the strain and that it would reduce antibody therapy efficacy, compared with the regular variants.
“This variant is thought to be more infectious, but not more lethal. The Novavax trial indicates that their vaccine is less effective against this variant,” Dr. Andrew Page, head of informatics at the Quadram Institute, said previously.
“Through ‘surge testing’ it is hoped to identify as many cases as possible, rapidly sequence them, and halt the community transmission whilst the outbreak is still small and in one geographical area,” Page said in a statement.
On Tuesday, UK health officials said that they had identified another CCP virus variant with the protein spike change that is thought to hamper current vaccines.
The variant—which is now under closer investigation—has been found in 38 people since December, according to a statement from PHE.
“The set of mutations includes the E484K spike protein mutation, which is present on a number of other variants of concern and variants under investigation,” PHE said.
That spike protein mutation is found in the South African and Brazilian variants.
The UK has been a world leader in genomic sequencing of the CCP virus, meaning that it may be picking up on changes occurring globally rather than revealing phenomena unique to the UK.
Vaccine manufacturers have previously said that they believe they can tweak the design of their products to combat emerging variants.