PUBLIC Health England have launched a probe into a new Covid variant from the Philippines after two cases were discovered in the UK.
The health authority said the variant contains a number of worrying mutations, including the E484K spike protein found in the Brazil strain.
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Concerns have been raised that vaccines may not be as effective against this protein.
A statement from PHE read: “The variant includes a number of notable mutations including E484K and N501Y, which are found in several other variants of concern.
“Public Health England has identified two cases of this variant in England. One of the cases is linked with international travel and the other is currently under investigation.
“All appropriate public health interventions are being undertaken.”
It came after the Philippines reported 33 cases of a new variant on March 9.
The country has recently seen a surge in cases, with close to 10,000 fresh infections added to the total tally over the weekend.
The Philippines, which aims to immunise 70 million of its 108 million people, has so far inoculated more than 193,000 since it started its vaccination drive on March 1.
It comes just days after another Covid variant was detected in travellers coming from Antigua.
It was declared a Variant Under Investigation on March 4, and has two mutations which can evade vaccines and speed up transmission.
No other cases have been found of this variant so far, after teams worked to speak to any close contacts and the pair isolated.
Elsewhere, four more cases of the Brazil variant, known as P.1, were found in the UK last week.
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