Tuesday 16 July 2024
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Latest updates on Covid variant of concern detected in the UK

BA.5 now dominant in the UK according to UKHSA variant technical briefing

The latest UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) COVID-19 variant technical briefing, published today, includes updated epidemiological analysis which indicates that Omicron BA.5 has, as expected, become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant in the UK.

An estimated 78.7% of confirmed cases in England are BA.5 which was first identified in April and was designated as a Variant of Concern on 18 May.

UKHSA’s latest National flu and COVID-19 surveillance report indicates that the increase in COVID-19 case rates and hospitalisations continues to show signs of slowing. However, UKHSA scientists say there is no room to be complacent. People aged 75 and over remain at particular risk of severe disease if they are not up to date with their vaccinations.

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Omicron BA.2.75, the variant derived from the BA.2 lineage which was identified internationally earlier this month, has now been categorised as a separate variant and given the designation V-22JUL-01.

This designation means that data relating to BA.2.75 will now be reported separately from other BA.2 cases. There are small numbers of cases in the UK and this designation is intended to allow investigation into the specific properties of this variant.

As of 18 July 2022, there were 24 cases of BA.2.75 in the UK. Of these, 20 were in England, 3 in Scotland and 1 in Wales.

Dr Meera Chand, UKHSA Director of Clinical an Emerging Infection, said:

“We continue to monitor the emergence of new variants and give them variant designations if they are sufficiently distinct to warrant separate epidemiological and laboratory assessment.

“It is not unexpected to see new lineages and continued investigation is a normal part of the surveillance of an infectious disease.

“It is important that everyone ensures that they are up to date with vaccinations offered as they remain our best form of defence against severe illness.”

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