Covid variants: What are they and will vaccines work?’

Posted: February 16th 2021


Just to keep us on our toes this story tells us:

The UK, South Africa and Brazil variants could be much more contagious or easy to catch.

All three have undergone changes to their spike protein - the part of the virus which attaches to human cells.

As a result, they seem to be better at infecting cells and spreading.

Experts think the UK or "Kent" strain emerged in September and may be up to 70% more transmissible or infectious. The latest research by Public Health England puts it between 30% and 50%.

The South Africa variant emerged in October, and has more potentially important changes in the spike protein. Experts have recently found a small number of cases of the UK variant that have one of these more concerning changes too.

It involves a key mutation - called E484K - that may help the virus evade parts of the immune system called antibodies.

South Africa coronavirus variant: What's the risk?

UK variant has mutated again, scientists say

The Brazil variant emerged in July and has this E484K mutation too.