A study carried out by South African scientists on the new COVID-19 variant identified last month, has raised concerns around the efficacy of existing vaccines.
Blood was taken from a number of patients who had recovered from COVID-19 in South Africa, and half of those samples didn't have the antibodies needed to fight off the new strain, 501Y.V2.
According to the paper by South Africas National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NCID), the other half of patients tested had a reduced presence of antibodies, and the risk of re-infection could not be determined.
Speaking about the NCID findings, Penny Moore, a professor at NICD, said:
"These data highlight the need for increased, ongoing surveillance and sequencing during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic."
Meanwhile, other new strains of the virus were detected in South America and the UK, inciting new travel restrictions around the world for passengers from either continent.
In Ireland, all passengers must now produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test on arrival and must carry out the recommended 10-day quarantine period.
The global death toll from COVID-19 has today reached 2,074,354, with the United States remaining the worst-hit, followed by India and Brazil.
There have now been a total of 96,973,138 COVID-19 cases reported worldwide, as the third wave of the virus continues to see countries placed under strict restrictions to slow the spread.
According to Worldometer, 69,514,440 people who have contracted the virus, have now recovered.
Ireland reported 61 further deaths today alongside 2,488 cases.
Speaking this evening, Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: The virus spreads through close contacts, through the congregation of people.
"We need everyone to stay at home as much as possible and to work from home, where possible. You should not meet up with friends or loved ones unless you are caring for them.
"If you go out for exercise, you need to stay within 5km from your home, wear a face-covering where appropriate, and wash your hands when you return home to protect yourself from infection.
"If you are COVID positive you should self-isolate and stay at home, in your room, avoiding contact with other people. This is to protect the other people that you live with."