Public Health England (PHE) have issued a severe warning that the Kent version of coronavirus has “spontaneously developed” with fear it could “evade the immune system.”
The new mutant virus which was found in Kent has “developed a superpower” which could evade the immune system which means it could fail to respond to the current vaccines.
Sky News health correspondent Thomas Moore said, “It’s developed a superpower.
“This is a mutation in the South African variant that seems not only help it infect cells but also to evade the immune system.
“The reason being that spike protein that all the Covid viruses use to latch onto humans cells changes shapes and that means the antibodies don’t recognise it in quite the same way.”
He added, “The fact this mutation called E484K has now been picked up in some samples of the Kent variant would be a twist, a worrying development.
“It potentially means that people who have had the infection before might be re-infected and also that it might reduce the effectiveness of the Covid vaccines.
“Not knock them out completely, certainly tests done so far suggest the vaccines would still protect against serious infection and death but perhaps they wouldn’t stop the virus from spreading.
“That would mean that people who couldn’t have the vaccine, or wouldn’t want the vaccine, could still be vulnerable to infection.
“It’s only 11 samples out of 200,000 that have been sequenced but the fact it has been detected through random sampling suggests there are more out there.”
The Department of Health has revealed on Monday that the new South African variant has now been identified across eight English postcodes.
Mobile Testing Units (MTUs) are to be deployed across the eight postcodes and will offer a PCR test to everyone, including those who have no symptoms.
The Department of Health are strongly urging everyone over the age of 16-years old to be tested, and additional home test kits are being provided by the local authorities.
The postcodes affected are London (W7, N17, CR4), West Midlands (WS2), East of England (EN10), South East (ME15, GU21), North West (PR9).
Professor Rowland Kao, of veterinary epidemiology and data science at the University of Edinburgh, warned that due to limitation of testing, it is likely that more cases of the South African variant are in general circulation.
Professor Kao said, “The identification of cases of the SA variant in people with no obvious travel links [either travel themselves, or links to other known cases] suggest that, at the very least, they were infected while in the UK, i.e there is evidence of local transmission.
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