A new coronavirus variant is under investigation in the UK, Public Health England has said, The Independent reports.
The variant, known as B.1.621, was designated a variant under investigation on Wednesday. There is no evidence to suggest it makes the vaccines less effective or causes more severe illness, PHE said.
Sixteen confirmed cases of B.1.621 have been identified across the country so far. Most of the cases have been linked to overseas travel and there is currently no evidence of community transmission in the UK.
The Independent reports that the strain had previously been designated a signal in monitoring.
PHE said it is carrying out laboratory testing to better understand how the mutations affect the virus’s behaviour, while contact tracing and targeted testing is being deployed to limit the variant’s spread.
The development comes as official figures showed coronavirus rates among people in private households in England were at their highest level since January, with one in 75 people infected. This is a rise from one in 95 people in the previous week.
Photo Ambulance staff attend to a patient outside the Royal London hospital in London, Britain, 23 July 2021. Covid-19 cases are continuing to sour in the UK despite England’s so called ‘freedom day’ July 19, when total Covid-19 restrictions were lifted. Figures show that over forty thousand people are catching Covid each day with the numbers of deaths rising steadily. EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN