Public Health England (PHE) announced that a mutated version of the COVID-19 Delta variant has already been observed in the United Kingdom. The executive agency also related that the said mutation is also very likely to evade the vaccine’s benefits.
According to the PHE, the mutation is a fusion of the Delta variant and E484K. Referred to by experts as an “escape mutation” due to its ability to dodge the body’s immune defenses, the Delta + E484K combo is speculated to be “potentially antigenically significant.” It may also infect even those who already got their two full shots.
While the number of individuals who have been documented to be hit by the Delta + E484K mutation is still relatively low, the PHE stressed that its presence is a “signal under investigation.” So far, 17 cases are tallied in England, while two are recorded in Scotland. Moreover, an in-depth medical investigation of the seventeen individuals hit with the Delta + E484K mutation revealed that 3 of them recently travelled to Nigeria and Latvia.
Remarkably, this is not the first time that a mutation of the Delta variant of the virus was reported. Health officials announced the presence of the Delta variant + E484Q last summer, which was dubbed the “Delta plus variant.” The Delta variant + E484Q was observed to have seemingly “died out” as the months went by, though.
Although scientists share that a similar “dying out” phase could happen to the Delta + E484K mutation, one of the risks they are looking at right now is the possibility that it could slip through the vaccines, which will ultimately lead to more transmission and infection.
However, the PHE assured that while the Delta + E484K mutation could blunt some of the vaccines available in the United Kingdom, it is certain that they will still be effective in preventing the more severe health effects of COVID-19.