In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Javid said that the emergence of the Nu variant was of “huge international concern”.
It is “highly likely” that the strain has spread outside the African countries were it is believed to have developed, but no cases have yet been detected in the UK, the health secretary told MPs.
Mr Javid told MPs that the new variant – known as B1.1.529 – was first detected in Hong Kong in a case of someone travelling from South Africa.
“The UK was the first country to identify the potential threat of this new variant and to alert international partners,” he said.
“Further cases have been identified in South Africa and in Botswana, and it is highly likely that it is now spread to other countries.”
And he said: “We are concerned that this new variant may pose substantial risk to public health.
“The variant has an unusually large number of mutations. Yesterday, the UK Health Security Agency classified B1.1.529, as a new variant under investigation and the Variant Technical Group has designated it as a variant under investigation with very high priority.
“It’s the only variant with this designation, making it higher priority than Beta.
“It shares many of the features of Alpha, Beta and Delta variants.
“Early indications show this variant may be more transmissible than the Delta variant, and current vaccines may be less effective against it.”
Source Link New Covid variant may evade vaccines and could pose ‘substantial risk to public health,’ Javid warns