What Do We Know About This New Variant?
The new UK variant, known as VUI–202012/01 or lineage , was first announced by Matt Hancock, the health secretary on 14 December. It was subsequently confirmed by and the UK’s COVID-19 sequencing consortium. Screening back through databases of SARS-CoV-2 the first sample was taken in the county of Kent on 20 September.
The variant carries 14 defining mutations including seven in the , the protein that mediates entry of the virus into human cells. This is a relatively large number of changes compared to the many variants we have in circulation globally.
To date, genetic profiles – or genomes – of this variant have been largely sequenced and shared from the UK but include some in Denmark and two cases in Australia. There have also been reports of a case in the . These countries all have very large…