Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, Scotland’s National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch said that it is impossible to know where the next “troublesome” variant is going to come from.
He said: “The border is leaking, it’s not a full proof system, and the next variant might be Japanese, might be Malaysian, it could be Scottish of course, we could export it rather than import it.
“You can’t tell where the next troublesome one is going to come from.”
He said that Scotland does more genetic testing than “any other country in the world”, testing roughly one in ten samples, but that not everybody can be genetically tested.
“We do test all positives from high risk countries though", he said.
“If you have come from South Africa or Brazil, the two high risk countries just now, we do send them for genetic testing.
“It’s not luck, it’s design. That’s how we’re protecting the people of Scotland, and the people of the UK, against new strains."
He went on to say that while people shouldn’t be concerned about the new variant because there has been no community transmission or evidence that it has “gone elsewhere”, scientists are “a little worried”.
He said: “We’re not absolutely certain that this version is amenable to the natural immunity some people already have and the artificial immunity we’re creating with the vaccination.
“Everything we know says it should still be very effective, but we just can’t be sure yet because it just hasn’t been around long enough and the trials haven’t been completed".
Prof Leitch added that the travellers who tested positive for the Brazil variant did “nothing wrong”.
He said they were from high risk countries but they “followed instructions” and self-isolated, so there is “no suggestion of any blame or concern about their behaviour”.
He went on to say that in the next couple of weeks, he is anticipating a rise in vaccination numbers after the recent dip in vaccine supplies.
He said: “We’re hopeful that we can meet our aims of all the top nine groups being vaccinated by mid-April, and then all adults over 18 into July”.