NEW COVID-19 STRAINS SPREADING IN UK HAS KEY MUTATIONS
British scientists are trying to establish whether the rapid spread in southern England of a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 is linked to key mutations they have detected in the strain.
The scientists from the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium said the mutations include changes to the important “spike” protein that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus uses to infect human cells, a group of scientists tracking the genetics of the virus said, but it is not yet clear whether these are making it more infectious.
“Efforts are under way to confirm whether or not any of these mutations are contributing to increased transmission,” the scientists added.
The new variant, which UK scientists have named “VUI – 202012/01” includes a genetic mutation in the “spike” protein, which – in theory – could result in COVID-19 spreading more easily between people.
The British government on Monday cited a rise in new infections, which it said may be partly linked to the new variant, as it moved its capital city and many other areas into the highest tier of COVID-19 restrictions.