The country now has four mutations of the virus that are categorized as “of concern”
A new strain of coronavirus found in the county of Bristol in southwest England is categorized as a “worrisome” mutation. That’s according to a report circulated Tuesday by the Department of Health’s Advisory Group on New Respiratory Viruses Threats in the Kingdom.
It noted that the new strain differs from the Kent variant of the coronavirus previously identified in southeast England by an E484K mutation in the spiking protein, which is also seen in Brazilian and South African varieties of the virus.
The advisory panel also reported the identification of another strain in Liverpool, Merseyside County, in northwest England, which has been classified as a “variant understudy.” A total of 76 cases of infection with the Bristol and Liverpool strains have been identified nationally. Public Health England (PHE) said there is “a high degree of confidence that coronavirus vaccines will protect against these variants.”
Doctors added that there are now four coronavirus mutations that are categorized as “of concern.” In addition to the aforementioned Kent and Bristol variants, they include strains first discovered in South Africa and Brazil.
PHE’s director of strategic planning, Professor Susan Hopkins, stressed on Tuesday that the South African variant of the coronavirus had already been confirmed in 170 people in England, and in 18 cases, people had not left the country. The day before, 147 cases of infection with the South African strain were reported, already a nearly 50 percent increase from a week ago.
The Kent strain of the coronavirus was first identified last September, but only came to the experts’ attention in December when it began to become dominant in England. According to experts’ preliminary estimates, it could be up to 70% more contagious than previously encountered genetic variants of the virus in the country, and its lethality rate could be 30% higher.
In turn, the topic of the spread of the South African strain in the UK has become widely discussed after the February 6 British-Swedish company AstraZeneca confirmed earlier media reports that the vaccine it created with Oxford University protects against this variant of the virus worse than the strains currently dominating in the kingdom. At the same time, the company believes that the British drug should be effective in preventing severe forms of the disease caused by the South African mutation.