What is a coronavirus variant and should we be worried? We ask the experts

Covid mutation Credit: ITV News

Public health officials are investigating strains of coronavirus in the UK which have developed a mutation that has been worrying scientists.

People in the PR9 postcode in Southport where the South African variant has been discovered have been urged to be "extremely vigilant" and get tested.

As well as in Southport Matt Hancock said cases had also been identified in the East of England (EN10), London (W7, N17, CR4), the South East (ME15, GU21), and the West Midlands (WS2).

There have also been a clusters of 32 cases in Liverpool, and 11 in Bristol, relating to the original strain of coronavirus that has been around since the start of the pandemic.

We put questions about the variants to Nick Beeching, Emeritus Professor of Tropical and Infectious Diseases at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

  • What is a variant?

  • Will we always have new variants?

  • What is a mutation?

  • What about the vaccines?

  • What should we do?