GERMAN officials have discovered another mutant variant of coronavirus that is different to strains in the UK and South Africa.
The new mutation was identified in hospital patients in Bavaria, health officials said.
It is not yet clear whether the new strain is more transmissible than other variants already in circulation.
The UK variant, known as B-117 was first discovered in September and is over 70 per cent more transmissible than variants already circulating in the UK.
Brits are currently in a third national lockdown due to the rapid spread of the variant which was first discovered in the South of England, before spreading to London and the rest of the country.
The new German variant is also different from the South African strain.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed the new strain on December 23 and subsequently all flights from South Africa were stopped.
As well as a South African and English strain, there are also two Brazilian strains in circulation, as well as a handful of strains that have been identified in the US.
Local news outlets in Bavaria first reported the new strain in Germany on Monday.
It was found in 35 patients in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southeast Germany.
Out of 73 newly infected people in the hospital, 35 had the new variation.
Samples are currently being examined by experts at the Charité university hospital in Berlin.
Speaking at a press briefing yesterday the hospital’s deputy medical director Clemens Stockklausner said it wasn’t yet clear if the virus was already more deadly than other variants currently in circulation.
He said: “At the moment we have discovered a small point mutation … and it is absolutely not clear whether it will be of clinical relevance.
“We have to wait for the complete sequencing.”
When it comes to other strains, neither the British or South African strains are thought to be more deadly.
However, the fact that the UK variant is more transmissible means it has caused more infections, which in turn leads to more hospitalisation and sadly, higher mortality rates.
Globally around 230,000 people a day are being infected by Covid-19 and experts have now warned that new variants of the virus could continue to emerge.
Dr Trevor Bedford, who is a scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in the US previously explained that the virus is mutating as it is “getting better at getting into human cells”.
Referencing the three new strains in the UK, South Africa and Brazil he said: “My (highly speculative!) hypothesis is that the emergence of these variant viruses arises in cases of chronic infection during which the immune system places great pressure on the virus to escape immunity and the virus does so by getting really good at getting into cells.”
German officials today extended the national lockdown in the country due to emerging variants.
Germany has so far had 2.06 million cases of the virus and over 47,000 deaths.
In a statement to CNBC, Germany’s health ministry said: “The Federal Government takes each of the mutations of the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus reported to date very seriously.
“The Federal Government is strengthening the possibilities of detecting corresponding mutations.”
Infections in Germany are still a concern for officials and today 11,369 daily cases were announced.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had previously highlighted that she was determined to keep new strains of the virus at bay.
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She said: “If we don’t manage to stop this British virus, then we will have 10 times the number of cases by Easter … We need eight to 10 more weeks of tough measures.”
The lockdown in Germany has been extended to February 14.
Alongside this, the country will implement a new rule which will ban people wearing homemade masks in shops and on public transport.
Instead people will have to wear single use masks or surgical masks, known as N95 masks.
Source: The Sun