Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have discovered another variety of coronavirus in the UK, which has already managed to spread to a total of 10 countries. This was reported on February 15 by the newspaper The Guardian, citing the Scottish scientists.
The variant, dubbed B1525, has been detected by sequencing samples of the virus in Denmark (35 cases), the UK (32), Nigeria (12), the USA (7), France (5), Ghana (4), Australia (2), Canada (2), Jordan (2) and Spain (1). As noted by the publication, the first sequencing of the genomes of this virus variant was carried out in December by specialists in the UK and Nigeria.
The researchers emphasize that the new variant differs from the dominant Kent strain of coronavirus in England by E484K mutation in the spike protein, which is also observed in the Brazilian, South African, and Bristol varieties of the virus. Against this background, experts have called on British authorities to increase the number of tests for the coronavirus in areas of the country where the variant has been identified.
Last week, the Advisory Group on New Respiratory Virus Threats to the Kingdom’s Chief Medical Officer reported the discovery of a new strain of coronavirus in Bristol in southwest England, which is categorized as a “worrisome” mutation. Specialists also reported the identification of another strain in Liverpool, classified as a “variant understudy.”
The doctors then added that there are now four coronavirus mutations that are classified as “of concern.” In addition to the aforementioned Kent and Bristol variants, they include strains first discovered in South Africa and Brazil.
The Kent strain of the coronavirus was detected last September but only attracted close attention from experts 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. According to the latest information, this variant of the coronavirus has already been confirmed in more than 200 people in England.