Scientists have identified another new variant of the coronavirus that may affect mutations.
Known as B.1.525, the variant contains a genetic alteration called E484K, which is also found in the Brazilian and South African variants.
According to Public Health England (PHE), there is no evidence that the mutations in the new variant make the virus more transmissible or cause serious illness.
Laboratory research has shown that viruses with the E484K mutation can escape human defenses, allowing them to bypass natural and vaccine-induced immunity more efficiently.
According to a report by the University of Edinburgh, there are so far 33 cases with B.1.525 in samples from December.
It has also been seen in other countries including Australia, Denmark, Nigeria, and the United States.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, PHE Medical Director, said: “PHE monitors data on emerging variants very closely and, if necessary, public health actions are taken, such as: B. additional tests and improved contact tracking.
“There is currently no evidence that these mutations cause more severe disease or increased communicability.
“The best way to stop the virus from spreading is to follow public health advice – wash your hands, wear a face covering, and keep your distance from others.
“During the lockdown, it’s important that people stay home where possible.”
The experts said the variant has changes in its genetic material that make it similar to the Kent variant, which is the dominant virus in the UK.
Dr. Simon Clarke, associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, told the Guardian that the presence of the E484K mutation in the South African variant is known to confer some resistance to some vaccines.
He said: “We don’t yet know how well this (new) variant will spread, but if it is successful it can be expected to weaken immunity to vaccines or previous infections.”
Dr. Clarke said B.1.525 should be included in efforts to ramp up testing to include variants of concern.
He said, “I think by the time we know more about these variants, all variants that carry E484K should be surge tested as this appears to confer resistance to immunity, however it is created.”
Other new worrisome variants in the UK are the South African variant with 202 cases and the Bristol variant with 22 cases.
A variant identified for the first time in Liverpool, which the PHE called the examined variant (VUI), currently has 56 cases.
Scientists are already working on new vaccines against coronavirus variants, some of which may be available in the fall.