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New Covid-19 variant under investigation by Public Health England

16 cases of the variant have been confirmed so far

A new variant of Covid-19 is under investigation in the UK, with experts at Public Health England (PHE) currently carrying out an analysis of the new variant.

16 cases of the variant have been confirmed so far.

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NHS nurses wait for the next patient at a drive through Coronavirus testing site in a car park (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

At a glance: 5 key points

– Public Health England are carrying out laboratory testing on a new variant of Covid-19.

– 16 cases of the variant have been confirmed in the UK so far.

– Most of the cases have been linked to overseas travel, and there is currently no evidence of community transmission in the UK.

– Public Health England have said there is no evidence to suggest the strain makes the vaccines less effective.

– PHE revealed that the delta variant now accounts for 99 per cent of all cases in the UK. Cases of the strain have risen by 33,716 last week to a total of 286,765.

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What’s been said

Public Health England said in a statement: "Sixteen confirmed cases of B.1.621 have been identified across the country to date, and the majority have been linked to overseas travel.

"There is currently no evidence of community transmission in the UK.

"There is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective.

"PHE is carrying out laboratory testing to better understand the impact of mutations on the behaviour of the virus."

Background

New figures from Public Health England revealed the Delta variant of coronavirus may be 46% more likely to cause reinfection than the Alpha variant first identified in Kent, new figures suggest.

PHE data shows that , while the overall chances of getting reinfected are very low, the Delta variant, first identified in India and which accounts for around 99% of cases in the UK, poses a higher risk.

From June 21 to July 19, some 1,788 people were admitted to hospital after testing positive for Delta.

Of these, 970 (54%) were unvaccinated, while 530 (30%) had received both doses.

In total, 3,692 people have so far been admitted to hospital with the Delta variant, of whom 2,152 (58%) were unvaccinated and 843 (23%) were fully vaccinated.