BRITAIN now has nearly half of the world’s confirmed cases of the new ‘Pirola’ Covid variant.
The UK Health Security Agency said it has found three more people infected with the BA.2.86 strain.
Vaccine-makers say their jabs will still work against the new variantCredit: Reuters
Scientists are scrambling to understand more about the bug as there are signs it spreads faster than the current Omicron variant.
If so it could cause a surge in infections and hospital admissions as we head into winter.
The NHS vaccine rollout, for over-65s and vulnerable people, started this week after being brought forward due to concerns about an outbreak.
Steve Russell, head of vaccinations at NHS England, called it “the most concerning variant since Omicron”.
UKHSA statistics show there have been 37 confirmed cases in England, up by three in a week.
Twenty-eight of the cases were in an outbreak at a single care home in Norfolk.
Seven patients have been hospitalised but none have died.
There have also been five cases in Scotland meaning Britain has 42 out of the global total of 99 – as of September 12.
According to the latest UKHSA data, other countries with confirmed cases are:
The UK likely has the most because it is testing more thoroughly and keeping track of the variants, not because it has a bigger outbreak.
Health chiefs say the variant is spreading in the community in England but there is no evidence it is any more dangerous than the previous strain.
Dr Mary Ramsay, of the UKHSA, said: “Older people and those in clinical risk groups remain at highest risk of serious illness from Covid-19.
“The vaccine continues to provide the best protection against serious illness and hospitalisation from Covid-19.
“Please make sure you get vaccinated when offered and encourage loved ones who are eligible to do the same.”
The NHS is gearing up for winter now and hospital chiefs expect another increase in Covid and flu cases as the viruses spread more quickly in cold weather.