UK Covid variant: what do we know about Yorkshire ‘triple mutation’ - and is it related to the Indian variant?

Health experts have stressed there is no need for the public to be alarmed about the variant.

A new coronavirus variant with a “triple mutation” has been discovered in the Yorkshire and the Humber region, with 49 confirmed cases.

Health officials say they are now investigating the variant to see whether further action may need to be taken to stem the spread.

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What is the new variant?

Scientists say they have been monitoring and sequencing the variant since April.

Public Health England (PHE) say they have been monitoring the variant - known as VUI-21MAY-01 or AV.1- since April.

The virus reportedly has a “strange combination of genes”, but PHE have said there is "currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective".

Dr Kev Smith, from PHE, said scientists had been watching and sequencing the variant since it was detected a few weeks ago.

"So far the people that we have identified are not particularly infectious, they're not really getting more sick than other cases of coronavirus and we're not seeing anything particularly worrying about it," he said.

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Is it related to the Indian variant?

It is not yet known whether the Yorkshire “triple mutation” variant has any relation to the Indian variant, which has also been detected in the UK in recent weeks.

What action is being taken?

PHE say the variant has been classified as a "variant under investigation", with monitoring and further testing to ensue.

Currently, no further measures have been imposed where the variant was discovered, but the government have said they would not hesitate to bring in restrictions where necessary.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There have been a number of variants throughout the pandemic and there will continue to be so.

“There are three mutations of the B1617 (Indian) strain, as I think has been discussed previously, but as we do with all variants where we spot and identify them through our genomic sequencing programme, we will continue to monitor them and we will designate them as variants under investigation, and then variants of concern if we deem them to be of greater risk.

“But again, as you’ve seen throughout the pandemic, that’s what we’ve done and we won’t hesitate to put in measures that we think are necessary to try and tackle the transmission of any variants.”

Should we be worried?

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that the Yorkshire variant is any more dangerous than other variants, or resistant to current vaccines.

Greg Fell, director of public health in Sheffield, said his team had been monitoring the new strain, and said there was no reason for the public to worry.

Mr Fell said: “We work very closely with NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England on these matters to make sure all appropriate public health interventions are being carried out, including any additional contact tracing and targeted testing.

“Where cases have been identified, additional follow-up of cases, testing of contacts and targeted case finding will be used to limit the spread of variants.

“If you have symptoms of Covid-19 you should seek to have a PCR test as soon as possible. If you are tested positive then you and your household must stay at home and not leave the house for any reason for 10 days.”