British High Commission Concerns about Inaccurate Media Report on COVID Variant

13 March 2021 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

MISREPORTING OF NEW COVID VARIANT VUI-202103/01 (lineage B.1.324.1) 

The British High Commission in St John’s is concerned about inaccurate media reporting following the announcement by Public Health England (PHE) that two people in South East  England who had recently returned from Antigua and Barbuda had tested positive for a new  variant of COVID-19. PHE’s statement can be found  

here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/confirmed-cases-of-covid-19-variants-identified in-uk 

The British High Commission should like to confirm there is no scientific evidence to determine where this variant first emerged. Giving variants a country’s name is inaccurate, unhelpful, and can generate prejudices and misunderstanding. 

All viruses mutate over time and, since the start of the pandemic, many thousands of  variants have been identified in the UK and across the world. The majority of variants  emerge and subsequently become extinct as they stop being passed on. This is assisted by  testing, contact tracing and isolation.  

We regret any misunderstanding that may have arisen over this matter. The UK government  will continue to work closely with Antigua and Barbuda health officials in our common goal to  overcome the ongoing threat to lives and livelihoods posed by this virus. PHE would  additionally be happy to support the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and offer to  sequence any samples transferred to the UK to support control of COVID transmission in the  country.

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