Top virologist Yong Poovorawan has warned regional authorities to keep a close watch on border crossings from Malaysia where the highly contagious “South African variant” is spreading, saying it could reduce the efficacy of the vaccines.
Dr Poovorawan, chief of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, on Sunday posted on his Facebook page that concerned agencies must ramp up measures to keep the B.1.351 variant from spreading in the country.
He said there are five mutations in circulation in Malaysia and the most worrying is this new one which accounts for 31% of all current infections in the country.
“There is a possibility that this variant may enter the country via the south. The UK variant which is currently spreading in Thailand didn’t fly in, but walked in through natural border crossings,” he said.
Dr Poovorawan said the South African variant will reduce the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use and efforts have to be made to prevent it from entering the country.
He said the discovery of another new variant spreading in Indian state quarantine facilities is not unusual and should not be a cause for concern as these are facilities equipped to monitor and test those individuals until they test negative again.