British scientists warn new variant has twice as many mutations as Delta
Experts think it will slash protection from Covid vaccines by 40 per cent
Health Secretary Sajid Javid last night announced travel from six countries
A new super mutant Covid variant that has sparked fears of another lockdown in the UK may have emerged in a HIV patient in Africa, is the most-evolved version yet and could make jabs much weaker. Scientists believe that its extensive mutations mean it must have originated in a severely immunocompromised patient, possibly an undiagnosed person with AIDS. It has more than 50 mutations, giving it all the transmissibility of the currently-dominant Delta strain and the same ability to escape vaccines as the old South African variant Beta. Experts fear the new variant — called B.1.1.529 — may make the vaccines at least 40 per cent less effective, because it is so different from the original strain the vaccines were made to target. Britons have been put on alert that there could be a Christmas lockdown, with one of No10’s vaccine advisers warning ‘we all need to be ready’ for restrictions to be reimposed.