British scientists have raised alarm about a Covid variant that has been discovered in Botswana and is thought to be the most mutational version of the virus.

Although only 10 instances of this strain have been identified so far, it was already found in 3 countries. This suggests that it may be more common.

This variant has 32 mutations. These indicate that the virus is transmissible, vaccine resistant, and more likely to cause complications than other varieties.

Current jabs can’t fight the symptoms of the spike because of their ability to train the immune system for older versions of the virus. 

Dr Tom Peacock from Imperial College was the first person to discover that this variant had spread.

He warned that B.1.1.529, its scientific name, had the potential to be ‘worse than nearly anything else about’ — including the world-dominant Delta strain.  

Three infections have been detected in Botswana and six in South Africa — where variant surveillance is more robust.

Another case was also spotted by a Hong Kong 36-year-old who had recently returned to the continent. 

No cases have been reported in Britain. The UK Health Security Agency took over Public Health England and said it was closely watching the situation. 

Because of the’very large’ number of mutations, concern has been expressed about this mutant variant. 

Francois Balloux from University College London said that the variant was more likely to be able than Delta to avoid antibodies.

MailOnline received this statement from him: “For now, it should still be closely watched, but it’s not necessary to worry too much unless the frequency starts increasing.”

Its ‘burst’ of mutations, he said, suggests that the virus may have been triggered by chronic infections in immunocompromised patients like HIV/AIDS.

Warwick Medical School virologist Professor Lawrence Young said that it “looks like” this mutant strain might be more effective at avoiding vaccine-triggered immunity than any other mutants due to its mutations.

He added, “It is always difficult to determine just by looking at.” [mutations]It all depends on how your immune system reacts to the changes.

However, it appears that this may be due to the extreme load of [mutations] — some of which we know about quite a bit in terms of harming transmission — it looks like it might be slightly more qorrying than the South African variant.’

According to him, it is difficult to predict if the virus will be more transmissible that Delta at this point.

Microbiologist Professor David Livermore from the University of East Anglia said that the variant was subject to’very large’ modifications in its spike protein.

He explained that while this increases the likelihood of vaccine escape it doesn’t mean that it will. 

The spike will affect the structure of the strain, which is not clear.

Botswana’s variant has mutations K417N & E484A, which are very similar to the South African “Beta” variant. These made it easier to avoid vaccinations.

It also contains the N440K on Delta and the S477N on New York, both of which can be linked to anti-body escape. 

There are also mutations in the variant P681H, N679K at a particular spike protein involved in infection.

N501Y is a mutation that increases the transmissibility of viruses and has been previously observed on Beta, the Kent Alpha’ variant, and Beta.

It also has Q478K and Q497K mutations. However, their significance is still not clear.

Dr Meera Chaud of the UKHSA stated: “The UK Health Security Agency in partnership with international scientific bodies is continuously monitoring the status SARS-CoV-2 variants, as they arise and develop around the globe. 

“Viruses are known for mutating frequently at random. It is therefore not surprising that small numbers of cases will be created with different mutations. All variants that are able to show signs of spread will be quickly assessed.