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New Covid variant found in UK as 32 cases identified: Report

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London, Feb 16 (IANS) A team of researchers has detected another Covid-19 variant with a potentially worrying set of mutations with 32 cases found in the UK.

The variant, known as B1525, is the subject of a report by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, who said it has been detected through genome sequencing in 10 countries including Denmark, the US and Australia, with 32 cases found in the UK so far.

The earliest sequences were dated to December and cropped up in the UK and Nigeria, reports The Guardian.

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The team said the variant has similarities in its genome to the Kent variant, B117, and it contains a number of mutations that have worried researchers, including the E484K mutation to the spike protein — a protein found on the outside of the virus that plays an important role in helping the virus to enter cells.

This E484K mutation is present in variants that emerged in South Africa and Brazil and is thought to help the virus evade neutralising antibodies, the report said.

According to Simon Clarke from the University of Reading, while it was unclear what effect many of the mutations may have on the ability of Covid-19 to establish an infection, or on the severity of disease, the presence of the E484K mutation was known in the South Africa variant to confer a degree of resistance to some vaccines.

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“We don’t yet know how well this [new] variant will spread, but if it is successful it can be presumed that immunity from any vaccine or previous infection will be blunted,” he said.

Clarke added that the new variant should be included in efforts to boost testing to pick up variants of concern.

–IANS

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