New York Covid variant found in the UK as health chiefs detect three cases

A NEW Covid variant from New York has found its way to the UK after health chiefs detected three cases.

Experts fear the new variant, called B.1.526, may carry a mutation that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines.

Health chiefs say three cases of the variant were discovered in travellers quarantine after arriving into the UK.

Many cases of B.1.526 have been found to contain a mutation called E484K.

This mutation has also been seen in South Africa and Brazil, and is thought to help the virus partially dodge the vaccines.

The mutation makes it difficult for the immune system to recognise by changing the shape of the virus's outer spike protein.

However Public Health England say none of the cases found in the UK contain the dangerous mutation.

Meera Chand, PHE Incident Director for COVID-19, said: “Public Health England is aware of three UK cases of the B.1.526 lineage of SARS-CoV-2 that was first detected in New York. 

“None of these cases feature the E84K or S477N mutations that are present on some Variants of Concern. 

“PHE is monitoring the situation closely.”

“We are working with partners across the world to identify and mitigate the impact of variants as they emerge.”

A virologist at the University of Warwick believes the variant is a “cause for concern”.

Professor Lawrence Young told MailOnline: “This find reinforces how important it is to keep an eye on things, we are not out of the woods yet.

“It reinforces the fact that while things are looking really good right now there is no room for complacency.

“We need to keep Test and Trace going and stamp out what are inevitably going to be local outbreaks.'”

Several other other European countries have reported cases of the variant.

Ireland has recorded five, Croatia has seen three and Germany have had one.

Meanwhile in America there have been 2,565 cases so far.

Researchers at Columbia University sequenced over a thousand samples from Covid patients in New York at their medical center.

They found that 12 per cent of people with the virus had been infected with the variant that contains the mutation E484K.

The study showed that patients that were infected with the virus carrying that mutation were about six years older on average and more likely to have been hospitalized.

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