Latest Issue

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…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect