Since April, 41 cases of Delta plus, or the Nepal variant, have been detected in the UK. The Delta plus variant is not classified as a new variant by the World Health Organisation, but is similar to the original Delta strain with an additional mutation called K417N.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), spoke during the coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday about the strain.
She told reporters: “As the Minister said, we have the best system in the world for picking up these cases.
“We’ve only seen 41 of the particular variant with this additional mutation in this country, which is very small, and obviously around those cases we will do enhanced testing and enhanced follow up.
“So I think we’re on top of the situation. I think we continue to be vigilant but the good message is what we expected to happen with Delta was that the vaccines would prove to be effective against the more serious disease, and we expect the same for this other variant.
“But there’s also the option of having different vaccines in the future and that’s something we’ll continue monitoring, so vigilance is our best sort of friend her against these mutations.”
Fears over Delta plus follow the Indian Government classifying the mutation as a ‘variant of concern’.
On Wednesday, they said 40 cases of the Delta plus variant had been observed in the three states of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
Indian’s health ministry said the Delta plus variant has characteristics such as “increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response”.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the new mutation was responsible for Portugal being removed from the UK’s ‘green list’ for travel in the first week of June.
Professor Francois Balloux, from University College London, told The Telegraph however there was “no particular cause for concern” from Delta plus.
He told the outlet: “Given the tiny number of strains reported, nothing is known about the transmissibility, immune evasion or lethality of the delta plus strain.
“Though, given that it has remained at very low frequency everywhere where it has been identified strongly suggests it is not more transmissible than its delta progenitor.
“The mutation may contribute to immune escape, though its impact on transmissibility is not clear-cut.”
Coronavirus cases jumped in the UK by 40 percent from Tuesday to Wednesday.
June 23 saw 16,135 cases, 19 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test and a further 211 people admitted to hospital with the virus.
In total, the UK has seen 4,667,870 cases and 128,027 deaths from the virus.
Another 299,837 first doses and 250,875 second doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered on Wednesday.
In total, 43,448,680 first doses and 31,740,115 second doses have been been administered, equalling 82.5 percent and 60.3 percent of the population respectively.
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed