Scientists have identified another new variant of the Covid-19 virus in the United Kingdom with a potentially worrying set of mutations, the BBC reported on Tuesday.
The British broadcaster said researchers from Edinburgh University have found 38 cases in samples dating back to December.
The report indicated that the variant has been detected in Denmark, Nigeria and the US and that British experts are studying it to understand what risk it poses.
“It’s too soon to say if it should be added to the UK’s list of variants of concern and whether mass testing for it should happen,” said the broadcaster in its report.
According to the Daily Mail UK, the strain is called B.1.525 and it carries the E484K mutation found in both the South African and Brazilian variants.
In an interview with The Guardian UK, Dr Simon Clarke, an associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said that the new variant should be included in efforts to boost testing to pick up variants of concern.
“I think that until we know more about these variants, any variants which carry E484K should be subject to surge testing as it seems to confer resistance to immunity however that is generated,” he was quoted as saying.
The Daily Mail UK said the discovery of this new variant would likely spark fears that Britain’s lockdown would be extended.
On Monday, Al Jazeera reported that the UK was looking to ease the lockdown once the government reached its target of vaccinating 15 million people by mid-February.
The British government is due to set out a road map to relax restrictions on February 22 and has indicated that schools could reopen on March 8, the Daily Sabah reported.
Al Jazeera said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to study the latest coronavirus statistics in the coming days before setting out a road map for exiting the lockdown.