A coronavirus variant with a “double mutation” has been detected in the UK after having first emerged in India.
A total of 77 cases of the variant, known as B.1.617, have been recorded in the UK up to April 14, according to Public Health England (PHE).
Of these cases, 73 were recorded in England and four in Scotland.
It was the first time PHE had reported the variant in the UK and it is currently labelled as “variant under investigation”.
The B.1.617 variant was first identified in India and has since been found elsewhere, including California.
Experts are said to be worried about the variant as it carries two mutations in the spike protein that may make it more able to evade the body’s immune responses.
It is also thought the variant may be able to infect the body more easily.
“These two escape mutations working together could be a lot more problematic than the South African and Brazilian variants who have only got one escape mutation,” he said.
“It might be even less controlled by vaccine than the Brazilian and South African variants.”
However, more research is needed to explore the function of these mutations and the effect they might have.
Health ministry data showed it was the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days as the country continues to experience a devastating wave of the virus.
At Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, one of India’s largest COVID-only facilities with more than 1,500 beds, unrelated patients are being forced to share beds - while bodies of those who have died lie outside the ward before being taken to the mortuary.
India has recorded nearly 14.3 million coronavirus cases, second only to the United States which has reported more than 31 million infections.
India’s deaths from Covid-19 rose by 1,185 to reach a total of 174,308.