A NEW Delta variant in the UK has doubled in cases in weeks, amid fears it could escape Covid vaccines.
Delta is now the dominant form of the virus, but this new mutation is potentially worrying due to an extra element in it’s genetic makeup.
The extra mutation, called E484K, has been proven to be “immune escaping” in the past, meaning it can hide from the immune system.
Antibodies produced by the immune system in response to vaccines still work but are not as potent against this coronavirus mutation, studies have shown.
For example, jabs are known to be less effective against Beta, which carries E484K.
In the UK there have now been 33 cases of Delta + E484K as of September 27, this is double the figure of 17 reported on September 13.
The East Midlands has the highest cases so far, with ten logged, and the West Midlands has so far seen no infections of this mutation.
Globally, there has been a leap in cases, up from 99 two weeks ago to 345.
Turkey has seen the highest number of infections so far, reporting 108 cases.
The US is ahead of the UK with 62, with Denmark just behind on 31 infections.
The UK Health Security Agency, which has taken over from Public Health England, said the infections began to increase in August and September.
The latest report said: “New cases continue to occur regularly and there is some evidence of clustering suggesting that such variants can transmit.”
Delta is already faster-spreading, becoming the most dominant variant in the UK over the spring of 2021.
It has some features which make vaccines less protective against infection, however two jabs still give at least 90 per cent protection against hospitalisation.
The addition of a new mutation has the potential to make vaccines even weaker – although still the best way to prevent Covid.
However, a research paper detailed how a group of pensioners caught the Delta + E484K without any serious consequences.
The outbreak in Lombardy, Italy, started with a 41-year-old man who infected his 80-year-old mother.
She went on to spread the virus to two other elderly friends while playing cards.
All were fully vaccinated and did not need to go to hospital, despite their age.
Ministers and scientists have warned the emergence of a strain that could escape the vaccines would be a “potential trigger” for reimposing restrictions in the future.
But although the report said “monitoring the appearance [of Delta + E484K] is urgent”, there are no signals at this point that the variant is posing a threat.
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