A new mutation of the highly contagious UK coronavirus variant has been found in the US, the feds revealed Wednesday.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing that the first case of the B117 variant with the E484K mutation — known as the “Bristol variant” — has been identified.
“As of yesterday, we have 1,277 B117 variant across 42 states, including the first case of the B117 with the E484K mutation,” she said.
The B117 variant is the highly contagious strain found in Britain in mid-December that’s since made its way to the US.
The E484K mutation — also found in the South Africa and Brazil strains — alters the shape of the virus’ spike protein, which allows it to break through a human cell.
Walensky declined to specify where the US case had been detected, or the status of the patient.
Scientists in the UK have expressed concern the Bristol variant may diminish the effectiveness of vaccines, according to the Independent.
“E484K is currently the mutation with most evidence of causing antigenic change,” Public Health England said in a statement. “Several independent studies showing the impact of different antigenic variants have concluded E484K is among the single mutations with the greatest impact.”
A University of Edinburgh study found that the regular B117 strain may be up to 70 percent deadlier than previous versions of the virus.
In the days after taking office, President Biden reinstated travel restrictions on the United Kingdom as spread of the variants worsened.