The new variant of the CCP virus observed in England includes a mutation in the spike protein, which can potentially make the virus more infectious and spread more easily, Public Health England (PHE) said on Monday.
COG-UK said the RBM is responsible for viral entry via its interaction with the receptor (hACE2) on host cells.
PHE and its partners, including COG-UK, are investigating the new variant and they expect to share their findings over the next two weeks.
According to PHE, there is currently no evidence to suggest that the new variant has any impact on disease severity, antibody response, or vaccine efficacy.
"There are many variants. It just happens that this one has quite a few more mutations than some of the other variants," he added.
"So that's the reason why we've taken it more particularly seriously, but there's nothing to suggest that the symptoms are different, that the testing is different, or that the clinical outcome is different for this variant."
The main question, Whitty said, is whether it causes the virus to spread faster.
PHE observed an association of higher CCP virus case numbers and a higher number of cases with the new variant, but it is too early to tell whether the variant contributed to the increase in case numbers.
According to COG-UK, "many thousands of mutations have already arisen" in the CCP virus genome since it emerged in 2019, including around 4,000 mutations in the spike protein gene at the present time.