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UK Coronavirus Strain Has Mutated Again And Can 'Avoid The Immune System'

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UK Coronavirus Strain Has Mutated Again And Can 'Avoid The Immune System'

The coronavirus mutation first discovered in the UK has mutated again.

Scientists from Public Health England have revealed Covid-19 samples found in Kent have the same genome as the highly contagious South African and Brazilian variants.

The first British variant of the coronavirus, known as B.1.1.7, was already thought to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the original virus detected in China in late 2019.

Professor Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said: "The mutation of most concern, which we call E484K, has also occurred spontaneously in the new Kent strain in parts of the country too."

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there were 11 cases of mutations of concern identified in Bristol and 32 in Liverpool.

Some of these cases have no known link with international travel and, because the data is a few days old, it could be much more rife in the community.

Sky News science correspondent Thomas Moore explained this new mutation has caused Covid-19 to develop a 'superpower'. This new ability allows it to not only infect cells but also bypass the immune system.

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There are now fears the second mutation could cause issues with the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Moderna says its vaccine could still protect against the new mutation, however the effects might not be as strong or last as long, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Pfizer reckons its vaccine is still effective and AstraZeneca will announce results later this week.

Vaccine trials done in South Africa were noticeably less effective in combating the virus compared to North America and the UK.

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Novavax announced its vaccine was 89 per cent effective in its Phase 3 UK trial, but only 60 per cent effective in a separate Phase 2b study in South Africa.

Johnson & Johnson had similar results, with the vaccine being 72 per cent effective in the US, compared to 57 per cent in South Africa in a Phase 3 trial.

According to CNN, 90 to 95 per cent of cases in South Africa had the E484K mutation in both vaccine trails.

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Authorities in the UK will go door-to-door to mobile test as many as 80,000 people to see just how far this new mutation has spread.

Matt Hancock iterated: "In all these areas it is imperative that people must stay at home and only leave home where it is absolutely essential."

Nearly 14 per cent of the British population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, making the UK a frontrunner in the fight against the pandemic. The US has vaccinated 7.9 per cent and Israel is far in front with 37 per cent.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: UK News, News

Stewart Perrie
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