Bitcoin, the biggest digital forex, fell as a lot as 7.8pc to $54,377, its lowest since October 12.
It was on monitor for its greatest one-day drop since September 20, and has slumped by greater than a fifth since hitting a file excessive of virtually $70,000 earlier this month.
Scientists stated the variant, detected in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong, has an uncommon mixture of mutations and might be able to evade immune responses or make it extra transmissible.
“The unfold of [the variant], particularly to different international locations, might wither investor urge for food additional,” stated Yuya Hasegawa at Tokyo-based alternate Bitbank.
“BTC’s upside will possible be restricted and the market ought to brace for additional loss.”
Bitcoin hit an all-time excessive of $69,000 earlier this month as extra massive buyers embraced cryptocurrencies, with many drawn to its purported inflation-resistant qualities.
Others have piled into the digital token on the promise of fast good points.
But it has remained extremely risky, drawing questions over its suitability as a secure retailer of worth. Smaller cash, which have a tendency to maneuver in tandem with bitcoin, additionally fell.
Ether, the second-biggest by market capitalisation, slumped as a lot as 11.6pc to its lowest in every week.
It was final at $4,070, down nearly 18pc from its file excessive hit on Nov 10.