UK Variant Mutates Again

According to scientists based in the UK, the Kent variant of the coronavirus is undergoing genetic changes. 

Some of the samples when tested have shown up a mutation called E484K, which has already been seen in the South African and Brazilian variants of the virus.

In response, the UK has stepped up measures to control the spread of new variants. They are doing this through the use of urgent testing for the South African variant in parts of England and the introduction of  travel restrictions to stop new cases being brought in from abroad.

Experts who are working with Public Health England have only found a handful of cases of the UK variant with the E484K mutation. This does not mean that the mutation is present in all versions of the variant.

E484K may help the virus evade parts of the immune system called antibodies, though early results from Moderna suggest that its vaccine is still effective against variants with this mutation, though the immune response may not be as strong or as long. 

Even in the worst case scenario though, vaccines can be redesigned or tweaked to be a better match in a matter of weeks or months, according to experts.

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