Brazil Covid variant – Urgent hunt for mystery traveller infected as Matt Hancock makes desperate plea


MATT Hancock tonight made a desperate plea for the mystery traveller who was infected with the Brazilian strain to come forward.

It came as more than 20 million people have now been vaccinated across the nation – and new research showed the vaccine was nearly 80 per cent effective after just one shot.

Matt Hancock gave a press conference tonight
The number of people in hospital is gradually falling

Mr Hancock and Susan Hopkins from PHE joined forced today to beg anyone who had a test on February 12 or 13 to come forward to check if they were affected.

He said: “We’re therefore asking anyone who took a test on the 12th, or 13th of February, but hasn’t received the result back to please get in touch by calling 119 in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland, or in Scotland, 0300 303 2713.

“We are doing additional search testing in parts of South Gloucestershire as a highly precautionary measure, and we urge people in that country to come forward for testing.”

A nationwide search is under way today for a mystery person infected with the Brazilian variant of Coronavirus.

They didn’t put down the right information on their forms after flying into the UK, sparking a frantic search for them.

They may not have even known they were infected with Covid.

Ministers have branded the new variant a “concern” because it may be more resistant to vaccines – though it’s not yet known for sure.

Mr Hancock said at tonight’s press conference: “We are trying to track down this individual, but we also have not seen any further community spread.”

  • Cops are no longer breaking up groups of people outdoors and have slammed ‘unmanageable’ lockdown rules
  • Schools could scrap ‘live’ online lessons for two weeks as teachers divert resources to test secondary school pupils
  • Brits living in five postcodes where the Brazilian variant has been found were told to get tested
  • One scientist warned the new variant may mean lockdown lifting needs to be slowed down

A massive effort is underway to locate the missing Covid patient and that they need to be found as soon as possible so measures can be taken to squash any outbreak.

There are nine areas where residents are being urged to get tests as a result of various variants.

Six strains of the Brazil variant have been found in the UK so far – and people living in five areas need to get a test.

Anyone who had a test on February 12 or 13 and didn’t get a result should come forward now, ministers urged.


Meanwhile, Mr Hancock said a single dose of a coronavirus vaccine can give 80 per cent protection from the disease.

The results apply to the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, with the British jab proving slightly more effective against the bug.

Jonathan Van Tam hailed the conclusions of the study and said people around the world should look at it carefully

The figures, taken from a Public Health England (PHE), were calculated by comparing people who had received a first dose of the jab with others of a similar age who had not got their vaccine yet.

Addressing the nation at a Downing Street press conference, Mr Hanock said the data was “extremely good news”.

He said that “a single shot of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine or of the Pfizer vaccine works against severe infection among the over-70s with a more than 80 per cent reduction in hospitalisations”.

“In fact, the detailed data show that the protection that you get from catching Covid 35 days after a first jab is even slightly better for the Oxford jab than for Pfizer, albeit both results are clearly very strong”, he added.

Professor Jonathan Van Tam this evening explained the data set and said: “The data shows that if we are patient then the vaccine programme will take us into a very different world in the next few months.”

The results from the PHE study comes just over a month after French President Emmanuel Macron said the vaccines were “quasi-ineffective on people older than 65, some say those 60 years or older”.

Mr Hancock said in a jibe at Mr Macron tonight: “I hope that right round the world people study this data and understand what it means – getting AstraZeneca jab and Pfizer jab could save your life.”

Researchers say the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is more effective than Pfizer’s vaccine at stopping people from becoming severely ill and needing to be hospitalised.

But a single shot from either of the jabs cuts the risk of needing hospital treatment by more than 80 per cent, results from the NHS vaccination programme show.

It represents another huge boost to Britain’s world-beating vaccine rollout, which has now achieved over 20 million first injections of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

Nearly 800,000 people have also received a second dose.

The number of people who have got a jab


Public Health England yesterday confirmed six cases of the Manaus P1 variant.

It is thought to be more contagious and there is a chance it may not respond as well to the jab – although no vaccine data for it exists.

Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College, said it looks likely the Brazilian variant is “breaking through” antibodies built up by previous infection.

Asked if it is impossible to keep the door shut to new strains coming in to the UK, he added: “It’s a really, really hard challenge. The border controls, test and trace and containment hasn’t been our biggest strength.

“We see these variants popping up variably all over the world, so we’re just as liable to suffer from a homegrown one as an imported one.

“So we just need to be really on the case all the time.”

Three of the people with the new strain were detected on Friday in England, while three were found in Scotland on Saturday.

Health officials have identified five of the cases, but an urgent alert has been issued to find the sixth as their identity and whereabouts is unknown.

They did not register their Covid test online, meaning they have not been identified.


The press conference comes ahead of Rishi Sunak’s Budget on Wednesday, too.

The Chancellor is expected to continue support schemes like furlough and the VAT cut and business rates holidays into the summer.

The PM’s roadmap means that shops have to wait until April to reopen, followed by pubs, restaurants and indoor activities in May.