Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at least 60 different local authorities had recorded Covid infections caused by the new variant, the BBC reported on Monday.
He said the World Health Organization had been notified and that British scientists were conducting detailed studies.
He said “nothing suggests” that it caused a worse disease or that vaccines would no longer work.
He told MPs in the House of Commons that over the past week there have been sharp, exponential increases in coronavirus infections across London, Kent, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire.
“We have currently identified more than 1,000 cases with this variant mainly in the south of England although cases have been identified in almost 60 different local authority regions.
“We don’t know to what extent this is due to the new variant but no matter its cause we need to take swift and decisive action, which is unfortunately absolutely essential to controlling this deadly disease while the vaccine is being launched.”
England’s chief physician, Professor Chris Whitty, said current tests on coronavirus foraging would detect the new variant, which has been found mainly in Kent and neighboring regions in recent weeks.
The changes or mutations involve the spike protein of the virus – the part that helps it infect cells, and the target Covid vaccines are projected around.
It is too early to know exactly what this will do to the behavior of the virus.
Professor Alan McNally, an expert at the University of Birmingham, told the BBC: “Let’s not be hysterical. It doesn’t mean it’s more communicable or more infectious or dangerous.
“It simply came to our notice then.
“Huge efforts are underway to characterize the variant and understand its appearance. It is important to keep a calm and rational perspective on the strain, as this is a normal viral development and we expect new variants to come and go and appear over time.”
Dr. Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said it is possibly serious. “The surveillance and research must continue and we must take the necessary steps to stay ahead of the virus.”
There is a simple rule for understanding all the “new strains” or “new variants”: Ask if the behavior of the virus has changed.
This is important because viruses are constantly mutating, that’s all they do. And so far we have received the “fear” but not the “response”.
Matt Hancock said the new variant of coronavirus “may be associated” with the faster spread in the south-east of England.
This is not the same as saying that it “causes” the growth and Hancock did not say that this virus has evolved to spread from person to person more easily.
New strains can become more common for reasons that have nothing to do with the virus.
One explanation for the emergence of the “Spanish strain” during the summer was tourism.
So nowadays there are scary headlines everywhere, but still no scientific detail to know how important this is.