English health authority says 38 cases of new COVID variant found

FILE PHOTO: An information board is seen at Birmingham Airport, as Britain introduces hotel quarantine programme for arrivals from a “red list” of 30 countries, in Birmingham, Britain, February 15, 2021. REUTERS/Carl Recibe

LONDON (Reuters) – Health authorities in England have identified 38 cases of a new coronavirus variant which has a key mutation that is thought to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, the government said on Tuesday.

“There is currently no evidence that this set of mutations causes more severe illness or increased transmissibility,” Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England (PHE) said in a statement. PHE said the cases were dispersed across England.

The variant, known as B.1.525, has the E484K spike protein mutation, which is also present in the South African variant and is the key mutation found so far that could undermine the effectiveness of vaccines.

The B.1.525 variant has also been detected in Nigeria, Denmark and Canada, Public Health England said.

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