THE "Nepal variant" has been found in Britain – and is a mutated version of the Indian strain ripping through the country.
A "small number" of cases are in the UK, with around 20 people thought to have been struck down with the mutation.
🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
It has been dubbed the "Nepal Variant" – despite the World Health Organisation saying yesterday it is not aware of any new mutations originating in Nepal.
The new variant has disrupted Brits holiday plans to Portugal, after 12 cases were found there.
But even more concerning is that the mutation could be both more easily spread and able to dodge vaccines.
Around 20 people have been found to have been infected with the mutated variant in the UK, the MailOnline reports, but it is not known where.
It comes as:
- No new countries were added to the green list
- Seven countries including Egypt, Afghanistan and Costa Rica were added to the red list
- Boris Johnson receives second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine as new Covid variant threatens lockdown freedom
- Dominant Indian variant doubles risk of hospitalisation – as infections soar again in one week
- Indian Covid variant could be ‘100% more infectious than Kent strain’, expert warns – stoking fears of June 21 delay
Public Health England has not yet confirmed British numbers, but said the mutation is evolved from the Indian variant with an element from the South African – which can evade vaccines.
Variant fears mean June 21's "Freedom Day" could be delayed, if cases keep going up and the mutations cause havoc.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the variant had "caused concern", as "we just don't know the potential for that to be a vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don't want to take the risk."
Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme this morning: "There's some uncertainty around that depending on assumption and how you analyse the data, between about 30 per cent and maybe even up to 100 per cent more transmissible."
Dr Mike Gent, Covid Incident Director at Public Health England, said: “PHE continuously assesses SARS-COV-2 variants and we are aware of reports linking Nepal to Delta (VOC-21APR-02) with the additional mutation K417N.
"This variant is present in multiple countries including a small number of cases in the UK, detected through rapid testing and whole genome sequencing."
It comes as the Indian variant has become the most dominant in the country, and could be up to 100 per cent more transmissible than the Kent strain.
Dr Jeff Barrett, Director of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, added: "There have been 91 sequences observed in the GISAID database of B.1.617.2 / Delta with an additional mutation: K417N.
"This mutation is present in B.1.351 / Beta, and is believed to be part of why that variant is less well neutralised by vaccines.
"Because of this possibility, and because Delta appears more transmissible than Beta, scientists are monitoring it carefully.
“This Delta+K417N has been seen in numerous countries, including the UK, Portugal, the USA, and India.
"It has also been observed once in Nepal (which does very little sequencing), and 14 times in Japan, of which 13 are samples from airport quarantine from travellers from Nepal.”
Covid variants have been given new names taken from the Greek alphabet, thanks to a new labelling system from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Yesterday WHO denied claims of a new Nepal Covid variant – with health bosses instead warning the Indian strains are rife in the country.
It was initially reported a "Nepal Variant" resistant to vaccines had emerged, but the WHO said it is "not aware of any new variant".
It added the three variants in circulation are the trio that originated in India, and have now spread throughout the world.
However it does appear there have been a number of cases linked to Nepal, of a mutation on the Indian variant causing havoc throughout the world.
India is now seeing a second wave in Covid cases, with devastatingly high deaths and infection numbers daily.
Hospitals in neighbouring Nepal are on the brink of collapse after a tragic spike in Covid cases.
The number of new infections recorded a day had fallen to fewer than 100 in March.
But by mid-May, more than 9,000 new cases were being recorded a day.
Nepal's second wave has been fuelled by a huge rise in infections in India, which has recorded the worst daily death tolls since the pandemic began.
Source: Read Full Article