TOKYO (Reuters) – About 70% of coronavirus patients tested at a hospital in Tokyo last month had a mutation known to reduce protection from vaccines, Japan’s public television NHK reported on Sunday.
The E484K mutation, called “Eek”
In the two months to March, 12 of 36 patients with COVID carried the mutation, and none of them had recently traveled abroad or reported contact with people they had, the statement said.
Hospital staff were not immediately available for comment.
Ahead of the Summer Olympics, due to begin in July, Japan is battling a new wave of infections. Health experts are particularly concerned about the spread of mutant strains, although large-scale vaccination of the population has not yet begun.
446 new infections were reported in Tokyo on Friday, although this is still well below the peak of more than 2,500 in January.
A record 666 cases have been reported in Osaka. Health experts have expressed concern about the spread around this western metropolis of a mutant strain known to have appeared in Britain.
NHK said none of the patients at the Tokyo hospital wore the British strain.
Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Edited by William Mallard