Health authorities in England have identified 38 cases of a new coronavirus variant that has a key mutation thought to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, the UK government says.Public Health England (PHE) has reported the cases were dispersed across England. "There is currently no evidence that this set of mutations causes more severe illness or increased transmissibility," PHE medical director Yvonne Doyle said in a statement. The variant, known as B.1.525, has the E484K spike protein mutation, which is also present in the so-called South African variant and is the key mutation found so far that could undermine the effectiveness of vaccines. The B.1.525 variant has also been detected in Nigeria, Denmark and Canada, PHE said. Simon Clarke, an associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said the new variant should be a cause for concern.
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Click To Start Selling Now"We don't yet know how well this [new] variant will spread, but if it is successful it can be presumed that immunity from any vaccine or previous infection will be blunted," he told The Guardian. UK plans to vaccinate all adults by September The development comes as the UK ramps up its vaccination drive. Two doses of vaccine could be given to all adults by August or September, helped by the UK's portfolio approach of buying from several different producers, the interim head of the country's vaccine taskforce told Sky News. Britain has vaccinated 15.6 million people with a first dose and 546,165 with a second dose, the fastest rollout per capita of any large country so far. Clive Dix, leading the group that managed Britain's vaccine procurement strategy, told Sky more vaccines would be approved for use in the "very near future", providing enough shots in case there were any production issues from existing suppliers AstraZeneca and Pfizer.