The Brazilian COVID-19 variant, first seen in the city of Manaus, is thought to spread more rapidly than the original coronavirus
A hunt is currently under way for one of the first people in the United Kingdom believed to have become infected with a Brazilian variant of COVID-19 that has been described as “variant of concern”.
The novel coronavirus variant, that was first seen in the city of Manaus, is thought to have been spreading more quickly than the original form of COVID-19 and is thought to be more capable of withstanding the effects of existing vaccines.
Three cases of the P.1 COVID-19 variant have been confirmed within England, with three in Scotland, Public Health England has said.
Two of the cases within England come from a household located in South Gloucestershire, where one person had returned from Brazil in mid-February, before hotel quarantine measures were introduced.
This come after airlines have said that they have already seen a surge in holiday bookings following the PM’s announcement of the road map out of the nationwide lockdown. On Holiday bookings, the Prime Minister has said that a global travel taskforce would put forward a report on how to return to international travel on the 12th of April.
The third case of this Brazilian coronavirus variant is unlinked and the whereabouts of the individual is currently unknown, as they did not complete their test registration card, PHE had said.
The person’s test was processed on the 14th of February so officials have said that it is likely to have been taken a day or two previously.
It appears to have been conducted at home or as part of regional surge testing, as local test sites have some staff checking the contact details that are provided.
Anyone who took a test on February the 12th or the 13th and has not received a result, or has an uncompleted coronavirus test registration card, is being asked to come forward immediately.
Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, told Sky News: “There is one case where the individual didn’t fill in their test card details so we can contact them.
“They’ve probably got a home kit or a test kit from their local authority.
“What we’re asking today is, anyone who had a test on 12 or 13 February to contact NHS 119 so that we make sure we identify that individual.”
This comes after one person in seven now have antibodies against the coronavirus, with the vaccine starting to add to the immunity of the wider population, according to new research on the virus.
A professor of molecular oncology, Lawrence Young, told Sky News of the variant: “We know it’s more transmissible. We also know it’s more resistant to the immune system – both vaccine induced protection and the natural protection that comes from previous infections is likely to be diminished by this variant, so it is a real concern.”
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England national medical director said that vaccines can be quickly altered to tackle new virus strains.
“The new vaccines which are being used for COVID-19 can be adapted very rapidly so it’s likely that if we do need to change the vaccine that can be done in months, rather than years, which was the case with the more traditional vaccines,” he told the BBC.