Scientists have identified another new coronavirus variant in the UK which has potentially concerning mutations.
B.1.525, the new variant, contains a genetic change called E484K which is also found in the Brazilian and South African variants.
Public Health England (PHE) has said there is no evidence that the mutations in the new variant make the virus more transmissible or cause severe disease.
Laboratory studies have shown that viruses with the E484K mutation can escape human defences, making them more efficient at evading natural and vaccine-triggered immunity.
PHE said 38 cases involving B.1.525 have been identified so far in the UK, after samples dating back to December were studied.
It is not clear where the cases in the UK were found.
The experts said the variant has alterations in its genetic material that make it similar to the Kent variant, which is the dominant virus in the UK
Seven symptoms should trigger a Covid test, new evidence shows – so what are they
Four more symptoms of Covid should be added to the ‘classic’ cough, fever or loss of taste/smell that should prompt people to get a test, experts have concluded.
They say millions of coronavirus cases could be going undetected because people are only being told to have a test if they have the three most widely recognised signs.
Anyone who feels unwell has been urged to get a test by the researchers behind a new study which suggests that extending the list of symptoms to include fatigue, sore throat, headache and diarrhoea would help pick up around a third more Covid-19 cases.
The findings, published in the Journal of Infection, are based on data from 122,000 UK adults using the Zoe Covid Symptom Study app.
Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the Zoe app and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London (KCL), said: “We’ve known since the beginning that just focusing testing on the classic triad of cough, fever and anosmia (loss of smell) misses a significant proportion of positive cases.
“We identified anosmia as a symptom back in May and our work led to the Government adding it to the list; it is now clear that we need to add more.
“By inviting any users who log any new symptoms to get a test, we confirmed that there are many more symptoms of Covid-19.
“This is especially important with new variants that may cause different symptoms.
“For us, the message for the public is clear: if you’re feeling newly unwell, it could be Covid and you should get a test.”
Scientists at KCL teamed up with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) to analyse data from 122,000 people, 1,202 of whom reported receiving a positive coronavirus test within a week of first feeling ill.
They found that testing people with any of the three classic symptoms would have spotted 69% of symptomatic cases, with 46 people testing negative for every person testing positive.
But the researchers said that extending the list of symptoms to fatigue, headache, sore throat and diarrhoea in the first three days of illness would have detected 96% of symptomatic cases, with 95 testing negative for every positive test.
A world-first ‘human challenge’ trial will infect healthy young people with coronavirus to study how it spreads and which vaccines work best
- A world-first study in the UK is infecting 90 healthy young people with coronavirus.
- Scientists will figure out the smallest amount of virus needed to cause COVID-19.
- They will also study how it spreads from person to person, and which vaccine works best.
A world-first study will infect young, healthy people with coronavirus in a controlled environment to learn more about its characteristics, UK officials announced Monday.
The so-called “human challenge” study has just received ethical approval, and will recruit 90 people between the ages of 18 and 30 who are at low risk of COVID-19 complications.
The study is backed by £33.6 million ($46.5 million) of UK government funding, and will begin within weeks, provided the hospitals with the secure facilities designed to contain the virus give the go-ahead, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said in a press release.
The volunteers will be exposed to a lab-made coronavirus and monitored for 24 hours so that scientists can determine the smallest amount of virus that can cause infection. Researchers will also study how the virus spreads from person, and the volunteers’ immune responses.
The study will start with the original virus found in the UK in March 2020— that has shown to be low risk for young, healthy people — rather than the more contagious coronavirus variant now spreading in the UK and elsewhere, called B.1.1.7.
Challenge trials regularly play a role in the development of treatments for diseases, such as for cholera and flu, but this is the first human challenge trial for COVID-19.
In a second wave of the study, a small number of volunteers will receive a COVID-19 shot that has proven in clinical trials to be safe, and then be exposed to coronavirus, to help identify which vaccines are most effective.
“These human challenge studies will take place here in the UK and will help accelerate scientists’ knowledge of how coronavirus affects people and could eventually further the rapid development of vaccines,” Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK business secretary, said.
Dr. Chris Chiu, the study’s chief investigator, from Imperial College London, said that the researchers’ eventual aim was to establish which vaccines and treatments work best “in beating this disease.”
- On January 31, the first 2 novel coronavirus cases in the UK,  the first 2 cases in Russia,  and the first case in Sweden and in Spain were reported. Canada reported its 4th case.
- On Jan. 31, the United States
- declared Coronavirus a Public Health Emergency
- issued 14 days quarantine rules for US citizens entering the US from China (mandatory if entering from the Hubei province).
- issued an order to deny entry to foreigners who have traveled to China within the past two weeks.
- On January 30, the novel coronavirus total case count surpassed that for SARS (which affected 8,096 people worldwide).
- On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a Global Public Health Emergency.
- On January 30 CDC confirmed the first US case of human to human transmission.
- Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the United States have reported cases in patients who didn’t personally visit China, but contracted the virus from someone else who had visited Wuhan, China. These cases of human to human transmission are the most worrisome, according to the WHO.
- Wuhan (the city where the virus originated) is the largest city in Central China, with a population of over 11 million people. The city, on January 23, shut down transport links. Following Wuhan lock down, the city of Huanggang was also placed in quarantine, and the city of Ezhou closed its train stations. This means than 18 million people have been placed in isolation. The World Health Organization (WHO) said cutting off a city as large as Wuhan is “unprecedented in public health history.” and praised China for its incredible commitment to isolate the virus and minimize the spread to other countries.
How dangerous is the virus?
There are three parameters to understand in order to assess the magnitude of the risk posed by this novel coronavirus:
- Transmission Rate (Ro) – number of newly infected people from a single case
- Case Fatality Rate (CFR) – percent of cases that result in death
- Determine whether asymptomatic transmission is possible
How contagious is the Wuhan Coronavirus? (Ro)
The attack rate or transmissibility (how rapidly the disease spreads) of a virus is indicated by its reproductive number (Ro, pronounced R-nought or r-zero), which represents the average number of people to which a single infected person will transmit the virus.
WHO’s estimated (on Jan. 23) Ro to be between 1.4 and 2.5. 
Other studies have estimated a Ro between 3.6 and 4.0, and between 2.24 to 3.58. .
An outbreak with a reproductive number of below 1 will gradually disappear.
For comparison, the Ro for the common flu is 1.3 and for SARS it was 2.0.
Fatality Rate (case fatality ratio or CFR) of the Wuhan Coronavirus
See full details: Coronavirus Fatality Rate
The novel coronavirus’ case fatality rate has been estimated at around 2%, in the WHO press conference held on January 29, 2020  . However, it noted that, without knowing how many were infected, it was too early to be able to put a percentage on the mortality rate figure.
A prior estimate  had put that number at 3%.
Fatality rate can change as a virus can mutate, according to epidemiologists.
For comparison, the case fatality rate for SARS was 10%, and for MERS 34%.
Incubation Period (how long it takes for symptoms to appear)
See full details: COVID-19 Coronavirus Incubation Period
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 (estimated ranges vary from 2-10 days, 2-14 days, and 10-14 days, see details), during which the virus is contagious but the patient does not display any symptom (asymptomatic transmission).
Age and conditions of Coronavirus cases
See latest findings: Age, Sex, Demographics of COVID-19 Cases and Deaths
According to early estimates by China’s National Health Commission (NHC), about 80% of those who died were over the age of 60 and 75% of them had pre-existing health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
According to the WHO Situation Report no. 7 issued on Jan. 27:
- The median age of cases detected outside of China is 45 years, ranging from 2 to 74 years.
- 71% of cases were male.
A study of 138 hospitalized patients with NCIP found that the median age was 56 years (interquartile range, 42-68; range, 22-92 years) and 75 (54.3%) were men.
The WHO, in its Myth busters FAQs, addresses the question: “Does the new coronavirus affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible?” by answering that:
- People of all ages can be infected by the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
- Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
Patient who died in the Philippines was a 44-year old male
The patient who died in the Philippines on February 2, in what was the first death occurring outside of China, was a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan who was admitted on Jan. 25 after experiencing fever, cough, and sore throat, before developing severe pneumonia. In the last few days, “the patient was stable and showed signs of improvement, however, the condition of the patient deteriorated within his last 24 hours resulting in his demise.” according to the Philippine Department of Health.
Serious Cases of 30 year old patients in France
As of Jan. 29, according to French authorities, the conditions of the two earliest Paris cases had worsened and the patients were being treated in intensive care, according to French authorities. The patients have been described as a young couple aged 30 and 31 years old, both Chinese citizens from Wuhan who were asymptomatic when they arrived in Paris on January 18 .
Age and Sex of the first deaths as reported by the China National Health Commission (NHC)
The NHC reported the details of the first 17 deaths up to 24 pm on January 22, 2020. The deaths included 13 males and 4 females. The median age of the deaths was 75 (range 48-89) years.
WHO Risk Assessment: Global Emergency
See full details: WHO coronavirus updates
On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a Global Public Health Emergency.
For more information from the WHO regarding novel coronavirus: WHO page on