WHO says authorities investigating new Covid-19 variant in England

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WHO experts comment on variant of Covid-19 in England, saying mutations are quite common and there is no evidence for now that the variant behaves differently.

GENEVA/LONDON (REUTERS) - The World Health Organisation is aware of a new variant of Covid-19 that has emerged in Britain, but there is no evidence the strain behaves differently to existing types of the virus, it said on Monday (Dec 14).

"We are aware of this genetic variant reported in 1,000 individuals in England," the WHO's top emergencies expert Mike Ryan told a news briefing in Geneva. "Authorities are looking at its significance. We have seen many variants, this virus evolves and changes over time."

Over 1,000 cases of a new coronavirus variant have been identified in the past few days in England, predominantly in the south of the country where it could be connected to a surge in cases, Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday.

"We have identified a new variant of coronavirus, which may be associated with the faster spread in the southeast of England," Hancock said in a statement to parliament.

"Initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants," he said. "I must stress at this point that there is currently nothing to suggest that the variant is more likely to cause serious disease, and the latest clinical advice is that it's highly unlikely that this mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine," he added.

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