British scientists are fearful that it’s the South African strain that may cause the greatest risk.
But local experts say the country’s variant strain is currently being critically studied and that there’s no need to panic.
Dr Jeremy Nel, an infectious disease specialist, said there is no evidence that cases are more severe.
Dr Nel said that the virus being more transmissible will lead to many more deaths as it overwhelms more healthcare systems.
Of global concern now is whether vaccines will be effective against the variant strain.
“There’s a lot of work being done by the researchers involved in vaccine trials now to see whether there will or won’t be any impact on that,” said Professor Helen Rees, expert COVID-19 advisor for the WHO.
Rees says these results should be known within weeks and that this shouldn’t delay the procurement and rollout of vaccines.
South Africa could get vaccines as early as next month if government’s bilateral talks with manufacturers are fruitful.