Public Health England (PHE) have released a statement that four more cases of the P.1 variant have been identified in England, and a new variant identified in the UK has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI).
Dr Jeffrey Barrett, Director of the Covid-19 genomics initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said:
“We shouldn’t pay too much attention to each day’s numbers. As we increase our sequencing capacity, we will continue to find infections with known and new variants of concern. Because cases are coming down we are finding a larger proportion of all such infections each week (for instance, we’ve sequenced more than 20% of new cases for the past two weeks). This gives us the best possible chance to monitor and contain these variants.”
Prof Lawrence Young, Professor of Molecular Oncology, Warwick Medical School, said:
“It is no surprise that additional cases of infection with the Brazilian P.1 variant have been identified – particularly as a consequence of household transmission from two previously reported cases. This is a highly infectious variant which is fuelling the surge of infections in Brazil where daily deaths have now exceeded 2000. Aside from this virus being more contagious, it is also likely to be partially resistant to current vaccines and may also be able to re-infect individuals who were previously infected with a different variant. That’s why it’s even more important to do everything to stop the spread of this variant (and all others) by ensuring strict border control measures and efficient surge testing to trace and isolate infected individuals and their contacts.”
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