Aviation minister Robert Courts insisted the Government has a “very strong” package of measures in place to protect the public from any new coronavirus variants.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Government was “toughening up already tough requirements” to ensure that new variants do not arrive from abroad while the vaccine is rolled out.
Mr Courts said a “total ban” on travel to the UK would not be right, and that pre-departure testing, passenger locator forms and the quarantine period makes the system “robust”.
– Vaccines should protect against new variants
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said there would be lots of new coronavirus variants this year but the current vaccines should protect against the strains circulating in the UK.
He told Today: “As we look forward through 2021, we’re going to see lots of new variants and we’re going to have to get used to that.
“But the critical question is whether some of these new variants are adapting because of immunity amongst human populations – whether that is because of infection… or indeed as a result of vaccination.”
But he said that new variants were being detected early, and stressed: “If indeed we do need to make new vaccines we will be able to stand those up really quickly.”