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Variant B117: What we know about the new Covid mutation

This deadly new adversary will exploit the government’s delayed response

By Philip Ball  

Image: Pixabay

The wave of Covid-19 infections engulfing the UK seems to be due largely to a new variant of the coronavirus, which transmits more readily between people. Called B117, it is a mutant form that seems to have been present in the British population at least since early September, although it only came to light towards the end of that month. Already it has been the subject of studies by epidemiologists and virologists, so we can now say some things for sure—and other things with less certainty—about this deeply alarming new adversary.

Two studies, conducted by researchers at Imperial…

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