77 cases of Indian COVID-19 variant found in the UK

Ruben Hill
April 16, 2021

"A new variant has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) by PHE".

Although only now designated a "variant under investigation" by PHE (as opposed to "variant of concern"), it has attracted widespread press coverage not least because it is said to possess a scary sounding "double mutation".

Six hundred cases - rising by 56 in a week - of the South African strain were identified in the UK. "PHE and worldwide partners continue to monitor the situation closely", it added.

A coronavirus variant with a "double mutation" first identified in India was found in the UK.

The variant was first detected in India, which is battling a huge surge in case numbers. It is being called a "double mutant" variant because it has two mutations. The spike protein helps the virus to bind itself to the human cell's receptors and gain entry into a host cell.

Labelled B.1.617, the mutant variant was first detected in India, but has been now found in eight countries, with 70% of samples containing the mutations originating from India.

Experts are anxious about the variant as it carries two mutations that may make it more able to evade the body's immune responses.

The E484Q mutation has characteristics of a previously detected variant - the E484K - which was seen in the fast-spreading Brazilian and South African variants, making it highly transmissible.

India is now battling a widespread surge in infections, with experts suspecting the most likely cause is the presence of more infectious variants, including the one detected in the country.

Speaking about the prime minister's visit to India, a No 10 spokesman said the trip was already "slightly shorter than it will have been".

"We have been in close contact with the Indian government about the Prime Minister's upcoming visit in light of the Covid-19 situation in India".

Mr Johnson was due to spend four days in the south Asian country but after talks with Narendra Modi's administration, the "bulk" of meetings will take place on one day - Monday, 26 April.

Analysis: What do we know about the Indian variant?

The latest addition brings the total number of variants detected in the United Kingdom to 56, including the so-called Kent variant and South African strains which is top of the UK's concerns.

"We add and remove countries based on the latest scientific data and public health advice from a range of world-leading experts", a spokesman said. It is at the same "484" position in the spike protein that is also mutated in the South African variant, and some others.

It comes as all parts of the United Kingdom began easing lockdown restrictions gradually this week, with non-essential retail shops, hairdressers and outdoor-serving restaurants among the businesses allowed to operate once again after months of lockdown.

A COVID variant detected in India has been found in the UK.

The majority of the samples were from Chandigarh, he added.

Worrying stories have emerged about unrelated patients being forced to share beds and bodies lying outside wards at one of India's largest COVID-only facilities as the country struggles to cope with the surge in cases. 681H mutant of Covid-19 was observed in 20% of the samples. These variants have higher transmissibility.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article