Four cases of a “worrying” Covid variant that could be more transmissible and less controlled by a vaccine have been discovered in Scotland.
The B.1.617 variant was first detected in India and features two mutations that could be a cause for concern.
Public Health England reported that 73 cases of this variant have been confirmed in England, along with the four cases in Scotland.
Officials have designated it as a variant under investigation.
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the variant featured two “escape mutations” – E484Q and L452R – that “are causing people to be concerned”.
He added: “There’s laboratory evidence that both of these are escape mutations.
“Basically, applying what we know about other human coronaviruses would suggest that this is going to be even less controlled by vaccine.
“But we don’t know that for certain at the moment.”
A total of 77 cases of the variant have been found across the UK up to April 14.
It is concerning because the two mutations may increase its ability to evade the body’s immune responses- and that may also be able to infect the body more easily.
This means it could be more infectious or less susceptible to vaccines.
Professor Hunter told the Guardian: “These two escape mutations working together could be a lot more problematic than the South African and Brazilian variants who have only got one escape mutation.
“It might be even less controlled by vaccine than the Brazilian and South African variants.”