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Don't let fears over variants stop you from getting a COVID shot, says medical officer

Britain's Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam speaks gives an update on the COVID-19 pandemic at a virtual news conference at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain February 8, 2021. Undocumented migrants in Britain will still be able to get COVID vaccines without being subject to status checks, the government said on Monday. Tolga Akmen/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam urged people on Monday to take the COVID-19 vaccination if offered, saying that a so-called South African variant of the disease would not overtake the current virus in the next few months.

Britain’s government are increasingly concerned that people might decide not to get vaccinated now because they believe that new vaccinations will have to be made to tackle new variants.

“Early data on modelling ... does not suggest that the South African variant has a distinct transmissibility advantage over our current virus, and because of that there is no reason to think the South African variant will catch up or overtake our current virus in the next few months,” he told a news conference.

“Please don’t delay if you’re called, take the advantage to protect yourself against the ... immediate threat.”

Reporting by Andy Bruce, writing by Elizabeth Piper, editing by Paul Sandle