Vaccines need to be redesigned to prevent widespread transmission of coronavirus variants such as that first found in Manaus, Brazil, an infectious disease expert has said.

Professor Ravindra Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said it was “fantastic” that the mystery person infected with the Manaus variant had been found.

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He told Times Radio: “But there will be people out there who have not been tracked and traced who have the variant and who may have transmitted it.”

Prof Gupta, an expert in clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said it is “always a possibility” that the Manaus P1 variant could become dominant in the UK but it is “unlikely at the moment because, first of all, we have low rates of transmission and we have a virus that has a transmission advantage”.

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He added: “On the other hand, once many of us have been vaccinated, the shift for evolutionary paths for the virus will become to avoid immunity rather than just to transmit rapidly, it will be a combination of both.”

“We need to have redesigned our vaccines for the coming year with some of the key mutations present in those vaccines so actually we can prevent transmission of those variants if they were to take off in the coming months.”

He added it was “inevitable that the list (of mutations) will grow because in many areas of the world transmission is still significant and transmission equals chronic infections”.

“On the other hand, we can take comfort in the fact that the virus is doing very similar things across all of these variants, so there are some very common themes coming along and very common mutations, so that helps us to design the next generation of vaccines”