The figures come from the latest update of PHE’s surveillance of the distribution of different variants across the UK, based on data up to April 7. Officials have designated it a “variant under investigation” (VUI) rather than a “variant of concern” (VOC), such as the Manaus (Brazil) or South African variants.
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the variant features two “escape mutations” – E484Q and L452R – which “are causing people to be concerned”.
He warned: “There’s laboratory evidence that both of these are escape mutations.
“Basically, applying what we know about other human coronaviruses would suggest that this is going to be even less controlled by vaccine.
“But we don’t know that for certain at the moment.”
(More to follow)