United Kingdom’s vaccine minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said on Thursday that around 4,000 coronavirus variants are currently in circulation across the world, per media reports.

Zahawi said Britain is maintaining a ‘library’ of the mutations in order to update the vaccines according to the mutation in circulation.

This comes as researchers and scientists seem to be apprehensive about the vaccine response against new variants of Covid-19. Some of the virulent variants include B.1.1.7, found in England; B.1.351, which emerged in South Africa; and P.1, from Brazil.

Speaking to Sky News, Zahawi said: “All manufacturers — Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca and others — are looking at how they can improve their vaccine to make sure we are ready for any variant. There are about 4,000 variants around the world of Covid now.”

“We have the largest genome sequencing industry — we have about 50 per cent of the world's genome sequencing industry — and we are keeping a library of all the variants so that we are ready to be able to respond, whether in the autumn or beyond, to any challenge the virus may present, and produce the next vaccine so we can always protect the UK and of course the rest of the world as well,” he added.

Zahawi’s comments came a month after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps claimed that there are 12,000 different mutations of Covid-19.

However, according to the Daily Mail report, top health experts have dismissed the 4,000 variants claim made by Zahawi. They stated that the minister must have confused ‘'variants' with individual mutations. ‘Not every mutation is a variant’, they said.