Health officials in England are still trying to track down one of the UK’s six recorded cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil.
On Sunday, Public Health England said that six cases of the variant first identified in Manaus, Brazil (known as P.1) have been detected in the UK — with three of those cases identified in England.
But while two of the cases identified in England were traced to “one household in South Gloucestershire with a history of travel to Brazil,” there is still currently a third, unlinked case, it said.
Speaking on Sky News on Monday, UK vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said that the individual who hadn’t yet been traced hadn’t filled in their test card details, and that they “would probably (have) got a home kit or a test kit from the local authority,” Zahawi said.
What we’re asking today is anyone who had a test on the 12th or 13th of February to contact NHS 119, so we make sure we identify that individual.”
The other two cases of the P.1 variant were identified in South Gloucestershire “who have been self-isolating correctly” and there is “minimal reason to believe that there may be further spread,” the minister added.
The three other cases of the variant were identified in Scotland and are not linked to the cases in England, the British government said in a statement on Sunday.
Zahawi stressed that the Brazilian variant is a “variant of concern,” adding that “it’s very similar in terms of its mutations to the South African variant. So, it is concerning.”
The variant first seen in South Africa, called B.1.351 or 501Y.V2, has a different pattern of mutations that causes more physical alterations in the structure of the spike protein than the UK variant (B.1.1.7) does.
One important mutation, called E484K, appears to affect the receptor binding domain — the part of the spike protein most important for attaching to cells, which could help the virus partly escape the effects of vaccines.
The Brazilian variant, P.1, also carries the E484K mutation.
Read more about the variants here: