A new variant of coronavirus has been identified in the UK.
There are 16 cases of the strain, which Public Health England (PHE) has designated a “variant under investigation” (VUI). Known as VUI-202102/04 (lineage B.1.1.318), it is understood to have originated in the UK.
The cases were identified on February 15 through genomic horizon scanning. All those who tested positive and their contacts have been traced and advised to isolate.
There are two classifications for Covid variants identified by Nervtag (the government’s new and emerging respiratory viruses advisory group). The more serious is “variant of concern” (VOC).
Variants of concern in the UK include the Manaus variant, the South Africa variant and the Bristol variant.
PHE has confirmed there are now 59 cases of the South Africa variant in England where no travel links could be established.
The addition of a new variant means there are now four VUIs and four VOCs currently being tracked in the UK.
Scientists are already working on new vaccines to target coronavirus variants, some of which may become available during autumn.