Wednesday, 23 Jun 2021

New ‘triple mutant’ Covid variant found in UK as scientists launch probe

A new “triple mutant” coronavirus variant is being investigated by scientists in the UK.

So far there have been 49 cases of the strain, which has a "strange combination" of genes.

They have been mainly found in Yorkshire and Humber, but Brits are being told not to be alarmed by it.

The strain is a "variant under investigation”, the Mirror reports.

But there is said to be no evidence yet to say it is more transmissible or resistant to vaccines.

It comes as cases of the Indian variant, which is thought to be more transmissible, continue to rise across the country.

The Covid R rate – the rate it reproduces at – is now somewhere between 0.9 and 1.1.

This is the highest it has been since the second wave peak back in January.

The Government has vowed to put in place any measures necessary to tackle any fresh variants.

But Greg Fell, Sheffield's director of public health, insisted there is no reason to think the "triple mutant variant" is more transmissible or vaccine resistant.

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He said: "Please don't be alarmed, we want you to continue doing what you have been for the past year.

“Follow the guidance, continue to wash your hands regularly and wear a mask indoors."

Where cases have been found "contact tracing and targeted testing" would be used to curb its spread, he added.

Scientists will continue to probe the "strange combination of mutations”.

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The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "There have been a number of variants throughout the pandemic and there will continue to be so.

"There are three mutations of the B1617 (Indian) strain, as I think has been discussed previously, but as we do with all variants where we spot and identify them through our genomic sequencing programme, we will continue to monitor them and we will designate them as variants under investigation, and then variants of concern if we deem them to be of greater risk."

The Office for National Statistics has estimated it is seeing a "potential increase" in Covid cases with almost 50,000 people infected by the virus on any day last week.

However, Public Health England's weekly report found cases had dropped in every region but the North West and in every age group except for five to nine year-olds.

Cases of the Indian variant are only surging in three areas – Bolton, Blackburn and Bedford – of the 23 hotspots which also suggests that it is not heading out of control.

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