A new Covid-19 variant is under investigation in the UK – with 16 confirmed cases so far – Public Health England has announced.
The variant, known as B.1.621, was designated a variant under investigation on Wednesday.
PHE are currently analysing the new strain of the deadly virus responsible for the global health crisis but stressed there is currently no evidence to suggest the new variant makes the vaccines less effective or causes more sever illness.
Experts are carrying out tests to better understand the impact of the latest mutation of coronavirus .
Public Health England said in a statement: “Sixteen confirmed cases of B.1.621 have been identified across the country to date, and the majority have been linked to overseas travel.
“There is currently no evidence of community transmission in the UK.
“There is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective.
“PHE is carrying out laboratory testing to better understand the impact of mutations on the behaviour of the virus.”
It comes as PHE published new data showing cases of the Delta variant has risen by 33,,716 since last week, bringing the total to 286,765.
The variant now accounts for 99% of all cases in the UK.
As of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 36,389 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government said.
A further 64 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday.
It brings the UK total to 129,044.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 154,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The latest government data up to July 22 shows that of the 83,239,491 Covid jabs given in the UK, 46,476,845 were first doses, a rise of 43,000 on the previous day.
Some 36,762,646 were second doses, an increase of 174,742