Covid variant first detected in India is found in the UK

NEW DELHI: A highly infectious new double mutant Covid-19 variant that was first detected in India has now been found in the UK sparking calls for Boris Johnson to cancel his trip to India.
The B1617 variant was on Thursday designated a ‘variant under investigation’ by Public Health England meaning it has concerning epidemiological, immunological or pathogenic properties and requires investigation. PHE said that up to 14 April it had identified 77 cases of the India variant in Britain – 73 cases in England and four in Scotland.
Variants first detected in Kent in the UK, Brazil and South Africa have subsequently been designated ‘variants of concern’ in the UK. The Kent (UK) variant (also known as B117) remains the dominant variant in Britain.
PHE said: “The variant, first detected in India, includes a number of mutations including E484Q, L452R, and P681R.”
E484Q and L452R are separately found in other coronavirus variants, but they were found together for the first time in India.
“PHE has identified 77 cases of this variant in the UK and all appropriate public health interventions will be undertaken, including enhanced contact tracing. PHE and international partners continue to monitor the situation closely,” PHE said.
Together, E484Q and L452R are known to be more infectious, more transmissible and to evade antibodies. It is likely the India variant is at least in part driving the current exponential rise in cases in India which is putting pressure on India’s healthcare infrastructure.
Professor Christina Pagel, a member of Independent Sage, a group of independent scientists providing scientific advice to the UK government, who is director of the Operational Research Unit at UCL, tweeted: “B1617 is worrying because it has some potentially worrying mutations NOT seen in SA, Kent or Brazil strains. This variant might escape both T-cell and antibody action. India going through a big surge – mix of B117 & new B1617. Johnson should not go on a trip to Delhi this month! madness! You can’t transmit Covid by Zoom. The situation in India is very bad and worsening. It is frankly insane that Bangladesh and Pakistan are on the UK travel red list countries but India is not.”
International visitors who have travelled from or through countries on the UK’s red list in the previous 10 days will be refused entry to Britain. Only British citizens and those with residency rights in Britain will be allowed in and they will be forced to go into mandatory quarantine in government approved hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750 (Rs 1.7 lakh) per adult and undergo Covid-19 tests.
Pakistan and Bangladesh were added to the UK travel red list on April 9. But India has so far not been put on the list.

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