Scientists probe new Covid Delta Plus variant which ‘could be mo…

Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Viruses mutate often and at random, and it is not unexpected that new variants will continue to arise as the pandemic goes on, particularly while the case rate remains high.

“It is testament to the diligence and scientific skill of my colleagues at UKHSA, and the genomic sequencing capacity developed by the pandemic, that this new variant has been identified and analysed so quickly.

“However, it should serve as objective evidence that this pandemic is not over.”

15,120 situations of new Delta variant

The Delta Plus variant – known as AY.4.2 by scientists – was first detected in England in July.

It has become increasingly shared in the UK in recent months

As of 20 October, there were 15,120 situations of Delta Plus confirmed across the country.

There is some early evidence that it may have an increased growth rate in the UK compared to Delta.

It comes as the original Delta variant nevertheless remains overwhelmingly principal in the UK, making up approximately 99.8% of all situations.

Scientists are confident that existing vaccines should nevertheless work to protect the population against Delta Plus.

‘Continue to exercise caution’

Now scientists say more evidence is needed to know whether the growth rate is due to changes in the virus’ behaviour or to epidemiological conditions.

Dr Harries additional: “The public health advice is the same for all current variants.

“Get vaccinated and, for those eligible, come forward for your third or booster measure as appropriate as soon as you are called.

“Continue to exercise caution. use a disguise in crowded spaces and, when meeting people indoors, open windows and doors to ventilate the room. If you have symptoms take a PCR test and isolate at home until you receive a negative consequence.”

situations to reach 100,000 a day

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this week that new situations could reach 100,000 a day as an estimated 5.3 million booster doses of the Covid vaccine have been delivered in the UK.

Plan B includes working-from-home guidance and the mandatory use of confront masks.

Downing Street has insisted there was nevertheless spare capacity in the NHS and that Plan B would only be activated if it came under “meaningful pressure”.

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