A new ‘triple mutant’ Covid variant with a ‘strange combination’ of genes is being probed by virologists in Yorkshire – as England’s R rate creeps up to 0.9 amid the spread of the Indian strain.
So far, 49 cases of the new strain have been identified mainly in Yorkshire and the Humber but there is no evidence to show that it is more transmissible or resistant to vaccines, unlike the Indian variant which could be more transmissible.
Public Health England are now looking into the spread of the mutation, which has been dubbed a ‘variant under investigation’.
It comes as No10’s top scientists estimated the R rate — which measures the spread of the virus — is now between 0.9 and 1.1, up from the lower estimate of 0.8 last week. It is the closest the reproduction rate has been to one since the peak of the second wave in January.
But residents have been urged not to be ‘alarmed’ at the spread of the latest strain, called VUI-21MAY-01 or AV.1.
Greg Fell, director of public health in Sheffield, said his team had been monitoring the ‘triple mutant’ variant and found no reason to think it is more transmissible or resistant to vaccines.
And ministers have insisted they won’t ‘hesitate to put in measures that we think are necessary to try and tackle the transmission of any variants’ and reassured the public that scientists are monitoring the latest strain.
The news came as Britain’s daily Covid cases crept up by nearly a third in a week to 2,829, while deaths dipped again to just nine, official figures revealed today.
For comparison, Department of Health bosses posted 2,193 infections and 17 fatalities last Friday.
Official data also showed another 268,251 first doses and 420,312 second doses were dished out yesterday. More than 37.5million Britons — or seven in ten adults — have been inoculated against Covid.
But Boris Johnson yesterday delivered a bullish message on the prospects for unlocking after a week of anxiety about whether the Indian variant will derail plans, saying he still does not see ‘anything’ in the data that would prevent the easings from going ahead as planned.
He also told Tory MPs today the ‘one metre plus’ rule for social distancing is still set to be scrapped in June, adding eliminating the measure was the ‘single biggest difference’ the Government could bring about in order to get the country’s pubs back into action.
Read more: Lies, lies. lies. yawn, yawn, yawn – New ‘triple mutant Covid’ with ‘strange combination’ of genes is ‘probed’ by virologists in Yorkshire as R rate in England creeps up to 0.9 and scientists say ‘more infectious’ Indian variant may ALREADY be the dominant strain in UK. Wow, Scary. Zzzzzzzz …