Two cases of new variant first identified in the Philippines detected in England

Mike Bedigan, PA
·2-min read

Two cases of a new coronavirus strain first reported in the Philippines have been found in England.

Public Health England (PHE) said the variant contains a number of notable mutations, including the E484K spike protein found in the Manaus variant.

Concerns have been raised that vaccines may not be as effective against this protein.

The new strain has been designated as a “variant under investigation” (VUI) rather than a “variant of concern” (VOC), such as the Manaus strain.

It was first reported on March 9 by the Philippines, when 33 cases were recorded.

PHE said it had now identified two cases of the variant in England and that all appropriate public health interventions were being taken.

It said that one of the cases was linked to international travel and the other is still being investigated, but did not confirm where either had been found.

This variant has been designated VUI-21MAR-02 (P.3) and PHE said it is continuing to monitor the situation closely.

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The findings mean there are now six VUIs and four VOCs being tracked by scientists in the UK.

Other VUIs include P2, from Brazil, which has had 43 probable or confirmed UK cases, and  A.23.1 and B.1.525, which have seen 78 and 86 probable or confirmed UK cases detected respectively.

Additional testing is currently being made available for targeted areas of England to suppress the spread of VOCs.

It comes as two more cases of the Manaus VOC have been found in England.

One was found in the West Midlands and the other in Haringey, London, and both are linked to international travel to Brazil, according to PHE.