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New coronavirus variant added to UK watch list

16 cases of new coronavirus variant have been identified in the UK. Designated as 'variant under investigation' (VUI) by Public Health England, the variant has originated in the UK.

As new variants emerge regularly, experts conduct frequent analysis and classify them as either VUI or "variants of concern" (VOCs). VUIs are on the watch list of experts but they are not immediately concerned about them.

Findings of the Test

  • The newly identified variant has a mutation in common with the South Africa and Brazil variants.
  • It contains the E484K mutation, which is also found in two other VUIs present in the UK. PHE added that the variant is devoid of the N501Y mutation that is found in all VOCs.
  • As of now, scientists are tracking four VUIs and four VOCs in the UK.
  • Geographically spread across the UK, all individuals who tested positive, and their contacts, have been traced and advised to isolate.
  • PHE said that mass testing is not required for the new variant as it is necessary only for variants of concern (VOC).

Meanwhile, the hunt for missing person infected with Brazil VOC known as P.1 continues as the search has narrowed to 379 households in south-east England.

What Next?

The basic nature of viruses is to mutate as it is part of their life cycle. It is not unexpected that new variants of the Coronavirus will continue to appear.

To keep pace with the new variants, scientists are considering tweaking coronavirus vaccines. This appears as a step in the right direction to provide high protection against the deadly virus.

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