The UK COVID variant has mutated again, just to keep us on our toes

This week, Public Health England reported that the new UK strain of COVID-19 has gained an additional mutation known as E484K.

Experts say there is no evidence that this COVID variant is any more deadly or infectious than the original, however, laboratory studies have found that E484K reduces the efficiency of vaccine and antibody therapy.

At the time of writing, the BBC reported 11 cases of the new variant in Bristol and a cluster of 32 cases in Liverpool.

UK COVID-19 variant

Dr Julian Tang, honorary Associate Professor/Clinical Virologist at the University of Leicester, said the acquisition of the E484K mutation is “a worrying development, though not entirely unexpected.” This is because the spike protein mutation, E484K, found in both the Brazilian and South African variants of SARS-CoV-2 “causes some loss of sensitivity to immune responses that give protection against virus infection.” 

Today, the UK have started door-to-door COVID testing in eight regions. Speaking to the press, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “Our mission must be to stop its spread altogether and break those chains of transmission.”

Increased testing aims to prevent the new variant of the coronavirus from undermining the country’s nationwide vaccination program.