Extra testing going to take place after a "small number of cases" of the South African variant were found in parts of Birmingham. All three variants have also been found in the United States. "That means a change to the rules of the game and to the approach we have been taking over the last few months", deputy regional leader Ignacio Aguado told a news conference.
With more than 140 confirmed instances of people with the feared variant, England has launched mass testing of people in districts where the variant has been identified, to find out how many more people may carry the variant.
Another Covid-19 variant called B.1.351 was detected in South Africa in early October 2020.
Early outcomes from Moderna counsel its vaccine continues to be efficient towards this mutation, however the physique's immune response may not be as robust or extended. According to scientists, this variant has a set of additional mutations that appears to affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies. Some scientists have also raised concerns that the emerging new variants could jeopardise the effectiveness of now used COVID-19 vaccines.
The E484K coronavirus mutation occurs on the spike protein of the virus and is of "great concern" because it could impact vaccine efficacy, a professor of outbreak medicine who is part of a panel that advises the British government said on Tuesday, reports CNBC News. Also, the World Health Organization has said this variant "is less susceptible to antibody neutralisation" than previous variants.
"With increased levels of immunity due to vaccination and previous infections, the emergence of such "escape" variants shouldn't be a shock, as a result of a range stress is increase that favours the formation of such variants that may bypass pre-current immunity".
"Thus, low numbers of Covid-19 spread reduce the likelihood that new variants emerge and interfere with our vaccination campaigns".
The South African variant carries a mutation called N501Y that appears to make it more contagious or easy to spread, a report in The New York Times said. He went on to say that it was very important that lockdown and other mitigation strategies be kept in force to stop the spread of the virus.
For many, it's presence so close to home is worrying.
He added: "There is also concern that the South African variant might be able to more efficiently re-infect individuals who have previously been infected with the original form of the virus".
"We need to get tested, isolate when we need to, wash hands, wear a face covering and keep our distance from others".