What we know about the Brazilian coronavirus variant so far
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A new strain of coronavirus that Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “very concerned” about has been identified in Brazil.
Scientists are looking into the new variant of Covid-19 now, trying to find out how severe it is and if it could impact the effectiveness of the vaccines.
Following the discovery of the new strain, the government implemented a travel ban on 16 countries to help reduce the risk.
New strains in viruses are common and happen because they are mutations of the viral genome.
There have already been two notable new strains of Sars-CoV-2, one of which was discovered late last year here in the UK.
There was also a strain identified in South Africa shortly after.
And now a third new variant has originated in Brazil.
What is the new Brazilian coronavirus variant?
Little is known about this new strain identified in Brazil, although it is not currently believed to cause more severe Covid-19.
The new strain has also been detected in Japan, after four people travelled from the Amazonas state to Tokyo earlier this month.
Scientists are concerned about this new strain as it shares similarities with the highly-infectious South African variety, meaning it spreads faster.
Should we be worried?
The new strain of coronavirus is not thought to make people any sicker, and there is currently no evidence to suggest that it will be resistant to the vaccines.
But where the strain has been identified there has been a rapid rise in cases.
Viruses that spread quicker are more dangerous to the population as a whole, as they can infect more people and raise the risk of health services being overwhelmed.
Vaccine development minister, Nadhim Zahawi, says a new coronavirus jab could be manufactured in just 30 to 40 days.
This would be done if a variety was found to be less responsive to the vaccines available.
Experts say new vaccines are easy to tweak.
Scientists are now performing experiments on the new variant, growing it in the UK in order to test it.
They are looking to see if the virus escapes immune response.
There are currently no known cases of the Brazilian variant in the UK.
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