Dozens of cases of the South African Covid variant have already been spotted in Britain, it was revealed today.
The Covid-19 Genomics Consortium UK (COG-UK) said 54 Brits have tested positive for the variant so far, with the first case spotted in October last year.
It’s likely that there have been far more than 54 cases of the variant because COG-UK only analyses 10 per cent of random positive Covid-19 samples.
The South African strain – called B.1.351 – is thought to be at least 60 per cent more infectious than regular Covid and even more transmissible than the Kent variant.
It also has key mutations on its spike protein which open the door to it being resistant to vaccines or natural immunity.
But scientists studying the variant say they’ve not found any evidence yet that it will make the current wave of vaccines less potent.
In a bid to keep out other worrying variants cropping up around the world, including strains in Brazil which have similar mutations, the UK has closed its borders to anyone who has not tested negative within 72 hours of travelling.
The Government is determined not to let potentially-vaccine resistant variants hamper its immunisation drive, which is on track to give a dose to the 14million most vulnerable Brits by mid-February
At least three major coronavirus variants have been spotted in Britain in recent months – from Kent, South Africa and Brazil – and they appear to be evolving to spread faster and to evade some parts of the immune system, although scientists do not yet think any have yet got so far as to slip past the vaccines completely
The most cases of the South African variant – called B.1.351 – have been detected in the UK and South Africa. But scientists say the UK has found so many because it sequences many samples
The report from COG-UK also revealed thefirst cases were spotted back in October last year
In their 41-page report, COG-UK said tests had already been carried out on the South…
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