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Latest updates on SARS-CoV-2 variants detected in UK


Public Health England (PHE) Thursday released weekly updates on the number of confirmed new cases of variants of concern and variants under investigation in UK, which shows 90% of new COVID-19 are Delta variant.


According to Public Health England statement obtained by Prowling Eagles, novel genotyping tests are being used to detect the Delta (VOC-21APR-02) variant, giving a result for action within 48 hours, saying as cases of the variant continue to rise, the tests are helping to rapidly inform public health action.

Data from these tests is available for the first time this week. Public Health England (PHE) figures show that cases have risen by 29,892 to 42,323.


The data indicates that over 90% of new COVID-19 cases in the UK are now the Delta variant, which continues to show a significantly higher rate of growth compared to the Alpha variant.


As stated by PHE, positive tests identified through genotyping are subsequently confirmed through whole genome sequencing and recent data have shown them to be extremely accurate in indicating a positive variant result.


This allows earlier detection of trends and improved public health response.


These results have been available to Health Protection Teams for several weeks and are already being used to develop local and national activities. Most recently, the tests allowed for the early identification of rising cases in areas including Greater Manchester and Lancashire, triggering a support package to control the variant in these areas.


New research from Public Health England suggests that the Delta variant is associated with an approximately 60% increased risk of household transmission compared to the Alpha variant.


Growth rates for Delta cases are high across the regions, with regional estimates for doubling time ranging from 4.5 days to 11.5 days.


With this variant now accounting for the overwhelming majority of new cases in the UK, PHE said it is encouraging to see that the increase in cases is not yet accompanied by a similarly large increase in hospitalisations.


PHE said it will continue to monitor closely over the next few weeks, but the data currently suggest that the vaccination programme continues to mitigate the impact of this variant in populations who have high two dose vaccine coverage.


Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, commenting said: “With numbers of Delta variant cases on the rise across the country, vaccination is our best defence. If you are eligible, we urge you to come forward and be vaccinated. Remember that two doses provide significantly more protection than a single dose.


“However, while vaccination reduces the risk of severe disease, it does not eliminate it. With data showing that Delta is significantly more transmissible than Alpha, it is just as important as ever to follow public health advice, which has not changed. Get vaccinated, work from home where you can and remember “hands, face, space, fresh air” at all times. These measures work, and they save lives”.

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