Public Health England (PHE) is carrying out an investigation into a new variant found after two travellers arrived from Antigua to the south east of England. The new variant has two mutations which can avoid jabs and accelerate infection.
PHE released a statement confirming it was a variant under investigation on March 4.
The health body said: “The variant contains the spike mutations E484K and N501Y, both usually associated with Variants of Concern (VOC), however it does not feature specific deletions that would lead to a designation as a VOC.”
The two travellers’ close contacts have entered isolation and their close contacts were informed of the situation.
The news comes after experts voiced concerns the Brazil variant, which was first identified in the city of Manaus, could could expand the pandemic worldwide.
The P1 variant has become the dominant strain of the pathogen and is more infectious than the normal strain.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Dr Roberto Kraenkel, a biological mathematician with the COVID-19 Brazil Observator, warned of the variant’s dangers.
He said: “This information is an atomic bomb.
“I’m surprised by the levels [of variants] found – the media isn’t getting what this means.”