Mystery Brit carrying mutant Brazilian Covid finally tracked down

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A Brit who arrived back in the UK and tested positive for the Brazilian variant of coronavirus has been found.

Six cases of the new strain were identified in the country last weekend.

Five of those who tested positive were told to self-isolate, but the location of the sixth person was not known.

Earlier this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the search was focusing on 300 households in the Gloucestershire area.

They failed to fill in contact details on their test form and initially couldn’t be traced.

On Friday, March 5, two officials today told the Financial Times that they had been located.

Up to 25 countries have detected the strain, thought to be twice as transmissible as others.

On Sunday, February 28, Public Health England announced that six cases of the Brazilian mutation had made their way in the UK.

Two of the other cases were tracked to South Gloucestershire, and three to Scotland.

One of those in the South Gloucestershire household had flown from Brazil via Zurich to London, arriving on February 10.

All three Scottish cases were identified as people who had flown from Brazil to Aberdeen via Paris and London and had self-isolated for the required 10 days.

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Earlier this week, Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College, said that vaccines look “less potent” in light of the new strain.

He told Times Radio: "When I look at the data on how well this variant gets neutralised, it's not that all immunity is gone.

"It's that the vaccines look so much less potent, so there'll be more people who have low antibody responses where it can break through and get affected. It all comes back much harder."

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Referring to new research on the Brazilian city of Manaus, published in The Lancet, Professor Altmann also said urgent action was needed to prevent other strains being imported from abroad, but admitted the task was a "really, really hard challenge".

"It was expected that there would be quite a high level of protection there because analysis of antibodies in blood bank samples showed (Manaus) had one of the highest levels of immunity in the world coming into the second wave, perhaps more than 70%, and yet they're seeing this enormous wave of reinfections," he said.

"So, if you put two and two together their assumption is that's because the new variant is breaking through those antibodies. But if that hadn't really been proven yet, it looks likely."

Preliminary data from an Oxford University study suggests the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective against the variant, a source told the Reuters news agency.

The data indicated that the vaccine will not need to be modified in order to protect against the mutation.

The source did not provide the exact efficacy of the vaccine against the variant, but said the full results should be released soon, possibly in March.

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On Thursday, March 4, officials saud they had identified 16 cases of a new variant of Covid which might share similarities with other strains first identified in Brazil and South Africa.

Public Health England (PHE) said cases of the variant, known as B.1.1.318, were first identified on February 15 and were thought to have originated in the UK.

"All individuals who tested positive and their contacts have been traced and advised to isolate," PHE said in a statement.

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The strain was declared a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) and contained the E484K mutation, which is a feature of the South African and Brazilian variants.

However, it does not feature the N501Y mutation which appears in variants of concern (VOC), PHE added.

Britain is currently tracking eight variants, four VUIs and four VOCs.

  • Coronavirus

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