A NEW strain of the Delta Covid-19 variant has been identified in the UK, and it's reportedly more transmissible than the original mutation.
41 cases of the 'Delta Plus' variant have been discovered in Britain, according to reports, and a Downing Street press conference is expected later this afternoon.
Public Health England's latest report on variants confirmed that 41 of the 75,953 Delta variant cases sequenced in the UK have been this K417N, or B.1.617.2, strain.
It follows news that more than 30 cases of the new strain were identified in India, where health officials say they believe the strain is more transmissible than the original Delta mutation.
It's been warned that the Delta plus variant has three worrying characteristics: increased transmissibility, stronger binding in receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
Speaking to Sky News, Dr Lance Pinto, consultant respirologist at the Hinduja National Hospital, said: "We are quite concerned about the Delta plus variant, given that it has a mutation that was attributed to the Beta variant escaping the immunity offered by the Astra vaccine.
"The concerns also revolve around the possibility of reinfections as there are reports that the variant escapes neutralisation with the antibody cocktail."
Despite the concern, a number of leading virologists have questioned whether Delta Plus is really a variant of concern, stressing that there isn't enough data yet to prove that the variant is more infectious.
"There is no data yet to support the variant of concern claim," said Dr Gagandeep Kang, a virologist and the first Indian woman to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London.