China reports first case of new coronavirus variant, ‘No need to panic,’ – China official

China has detected its first imported case of the new coronavirus variant that is spreading rapidly around Britain, according to a publication run by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The variant was detected in a 23-year-old female student returning to China from Britain, who was tested in Shanghai on Dec. 14, according to the latest edition of China CDC Weekly. The case “poses a great potential threat to the prevention and control of Covid-19 in China”, the publication said.

There is no sign new coronavirus variants will affect the immune impact of a vaccine that China has just authorised for public use, a disease control official was quoted as saying today.

The shot by an affiliate of state-backed company Sinopharm was approved yesterday, the day after news of China’s first imported case of a variant spreading in Britain.

“No need to panic,” Xu Wenbo, an official at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told state TV.

“The mutated variant, compared with previous mutated variants …. has no obvious change so far in its ability to cause disease,” he added.

He said no impact of variants on the vaccine’s immune effect had been detected.

The variant which British scientists have named “VUI – 202012/01” includes a genetic mutation in the “spike” protein, which could theoretically result in easier spread of Covid-19.

Xu added that mutation in the virus’ protein would not effect the sensitivity of most Chinese-made Covid-19 tests that target the virus’ nucleic acids, which carry genetic information.