Results suggesting the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine doesn’t stop people falling mildly unwell with the South African variant are not a ‘reason for alarm’, the lead scientist behind trials of the jab said today.

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, claimed evidence from Oxford’s own human trials in South Africa strongly indicated the vaccine still prevents serious illness and death against the new strain.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘As long as we have enough immunity to prevent severe disease, hospitalisations and death, then we’re going to be fine in the future in the pandemic.’