Study shows UK coronavirus variant with potentially vaccine-resistant mutation

This was likely inevitable: a variant of the coronavirus first found in the United Kingdom has gained a mutation that could make it more resistant to vaccines, according to a new analysis from Public Health England.

The mutation, known as E484K, is linked to strains in Brazil and South Africa that have proved more resistant to existing vaccines.

According to the analysis, estimated rates for cases with the mutation are 25 to 40 percent higher than estimated attack rates for other strains.

The variant B.1.1.7 was first discovered in December and spread rapidly across the U.K. It has since turned up in 72 countries. It is much more transmissible than other strains, and there is some evidence it could cause more deaths.

According to Public Health England, preliminary investigation has found the E484K mutation appearing more than once among the B.1.1.7 variants. If that’s the case, it is a sign that the mutation is a relatively easy way for the virus to gain an advantage.