Wednesday 23 June 2021 2:55 pm

41 cases of 'Delta plus' Covid strain found in UK

41 cases of a mutation of the Delta variant of coronavirus, being labelled “Delta plus”, have been found in England.

Public Health England (PHE) confirmed it is monitoring 41 cases of Delta-AY.1 – a mutation of the Delta “variant of concern” that originated in India.

The first cases of the Delta strain in England were detected two weeks ago, and PHE told City A.M. it was still “investigating its significance”.

“An additional spike mutation of interest” which was seen in the Beta variant that was first detected in South Africa has now been identified in a small number of Delta variant cases in the UK.

Dr Andrew Lee, Covid incident director at Public Health England, said: “PHE put additional control measures in place two weeks ago where cases of Delta variant with K417N (AY.1) are detected including enhanced contact tracing, rapid testing and isolation.”

“PHE will continue to closely monitor and assess all changes in the virus as they naturally emerge, given the overall large number of Covid cases globally.”

Vaccines minister minister Nadhim Zahawi is expected to lead a Downing Street press conference at 5pm, amid fears that the existing Covid vaccines might not be effective against the mutation.

Asked if the government knows about vaccine efficacy with “Delta plus”, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “Not at this stage. We have not got trial results of that.

“It’s something that we are monitoring carefully and there is work going on both here and internationally on this.

“Obviously we know that double vaccination has been proved to be effective against all existing variants that have been sequenced.”

PHE have not adopted the label ‘Delta plus’ for the new mutation, and like the World Health Organisation, are considering it as part of the Delta variant that now makes up 99 per cent of Covid cases in the UK.

The new mutation gained attention when the Indian government expressed concern about 22 samples of the variant found in different states.

The Delta variant of coronavirus first originated in India, and PHE estimates it is 64 per cent more transmissable than the Alpha variant that was previously dominant in the UK.