Worryingly, yet another mutation of the coronavirus has been discovered and it is already on UK soil.
First identified in Nigeria, there are real concerns among medical experts that this particular strain of the virus could prove resistant to the vaccine as this mutation contains the 484K mutation to the spike protein, which may help it evade the vaccine's antibodies.
The 484K mutation has also been identified in the South African and Brazilian variants.
Dr Simon Clarke, an associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, was the first expert to express concerns over the new strain's potential resistance to current vaccines.
Clarke told the Guardian: “We don’t yet know how well this [new] variant will spread, but if it is successful it can be presumed that immunity from any vaccine or previous infection will be blunted.
“I think that until we know more about these variants, any variants which carry E484K should be subject to surge testing as it seems to confer resistance to immunity, however that is generated."
Currently, researchers from the University of Edinburgh have reportedly found 32 cases of this B1525 variant in Britain. This total has already surpassed 100 worldwide.
What are the symptoms?
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One Nigerian scientist has claimed the variant may cause more severe signs and symptoms than the strain that has already ravaged the UK.
Having spent the entirety of December studying the strain as a result of a spike in cases in Nigeria, Mr Omilabu said: “The variants discovered in the UK and South Africa, they are distantly different from the variants discovered in Nigeria.
"What we could say clinically is that we have more people coming down with severe signs and symptoms."
Traditionally, the most severe signs associated with COVID-19 include extreme shortness of breath and pneumonia and these symptoms tend to begin between 5-7 days after infection.
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As well as the "main three" symptoms of COVID-19 that the NHS have long acknowledged and believe anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will have – A new, persistent cough, a high temperature and a loss of sense of smell and taste, there are additional symptoms which may be more prominent with this new strain:
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Chest pain
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
How to deal with symptoms
If you, or anyone you know, have displayed signs of the symptoms listed above you should not hesitate to get a test to determine whether you have coronavirus.
Both you and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
You should inform anyone you have been in close contact with since the symptoms started so that they can also book a test or self-isolate.
People are encouraged to use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if they are concerned about their symptoms.
The NHS have urged "Do not go to places like a GP surgery, hospital or pharmacy," and instead asked people to call 111 if they do not find the help they are after online.
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