(LONDON) UKHSA REPORT: Latest updates on SARS-CoV-2 variants detected in the UK Oct.01 – Nov.28: Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – Nov.30: The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has identified 2 further cases of COVID-19 with mutations consistent with B.1.1.529 in England, in addition to the previous 3 confirmed cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.529 on 27 and 28 November. The total number of confirmed cases in England is now 5.

#CoronavirusNewsDesk reports on #COVID19 variants identified in the UK: Latest updates on SARS-CoV-2 variants detected in the UK according to

Latest update

A further 2 cases of Omicron variant confirmed

The individuals that have tested positive are not connected to each other and are not linked to the previously confirmed cases. Both have links to travel to Southern Africa. One case is located in Camden, London, and one case is located in Wandsworth, London. The individuals and their households have been told to self-isolate. UKHSA is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to be infectious.

Six cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.529 have also been identified in Scotland, with 4 cases in the Lanarkshire area and 2 in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA, said:

We are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.

Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against this new variant – please get your first, second or booster jab without delay.

The guidance on vaccination is changing to help all of us bolster our defences in the face of this new variant. Everyone should complete a primary course as soon as possible – for most this will be a first and second dose. For some more vulnerable a third dose is available.

Following the change in JCVI advice today, a booster dose for everyone over 18 years is now recommended and will be available at a minimum of 3 months from your last primary course jab. Please take up this offer as soon as you are eligible to protect yourself, your families and your communities.

It is very likely that we will find more cases over the coming days as we are seeing in other countries globally and as we increase case detection through focused contact tracing. That’s why it’s critical that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms isolates and gets a PCR test immediately.

UKHSA is acting to get scientific information available as quickly as possible in order to inform the right balance of interventions to prevent transmission and protect lives. This will include analysing live samples of the new variant in our laboratories to investigate properties such as response to current vaccines.

As viruses mutate often and at random, it is not unusual for small numbers of cases to arise featuring new sets of mutations. Any variants showing evidence of spread are rapidly assessed.

Previous

Sunday 28 November 2021

A further case of Omicron variant confirmed

Following the first 2 confirmed cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.529 on 27 November, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has identified one further case of COVID-19 with mutations consistent with B.1.1.529 in the UK.

The individual tested positive after travel to the UK and is linked to travel to Southern Africa. The individual is no longer in the UK, but UKHSA is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive case visited when they were likely to have been infectious. While in the UK, the individual was in Westminster, London.

Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA, said:

Our advanced sequencing capabilities enable us to find variants and take rapid action to limit onward spread. It is very likely that we will find more cases over the coming days as we are seeing in other countries globally and as we increase case detection through focussed contact tracing.

We are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.

It’s critical that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms isolates and gets a PCR test immediately.

Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against this new variant – please get your first, second or booster jab without delay. Wear a mask in crowded places, including public transport and shops, to ensure we all help break the chains of transmission and slow the spread of this new variant.

UKHSA designated variant B.1.1.529 as a variant under investigation (VUI) on Thursday 25 November.  It was designated a variant of concern (VOC) on Saturday 27 November.

The B.1.1.529 variant includes a large number of spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome. These are potentially biologically significant mutations which may change the behaviour of the virus with regards to vaccines, treatments and transmissibility.

UKHSA, in partnership with scientific bodies across the globe, is constantly monitoring the status of SARS-CoV-2 variants as they emerge and develop worldwide. We are particularly grateful to health protection specialists and the government of South Africa for early sharing of local information on the omicron variant in an exemplary way to support global health security.

UKHSA is acting to get scientific information available as quickly as possible in order to inform the right balance of interventions to prevent transmission and protect lives. This will include analysing live samples of the new variant in our laboratories to investigate properties such as response to current vaccines.

As viruses mutate often and at random, it is not unusual for small numbers of cases to arise featuring new sets of mutations. Any variants showing evidence of spread are rapidly assessed.

Friday 26 November 2021

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced the emerging SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.529 as a variant under investigation (VUI).

The first genomes of this variant were uploaded to the international GISAID database on 22 November. Genomes have now been uploaded from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong but the extent of spread is not yet determined. No cases have been identified in the UK.

B.1.1.529 has a large number of mutations in the gene coding for the spike protein, and also in other parts of the viral genome.  These are potentially biologically significant mutations which may change the behaviour of the virus with regards to immune escape, transmissibility or susceptibility to treatments, but this has not been proven. More investigation is required to fully determine the extent of these mutations’ impact.

UKHSA is monitoring the situation closely, in partnership with scientific and public health organisations across the world.

UKHSA’s most recent variant technical briefing can be found on GOV.UK.

Friday 22 October 2021

Delta sub-lineage AY.4.2 designated as a variant under investigation by UK Health Security Agency

The Delta variant sub-lineage known as Delta AY.4.2 was designated a variant under investigation (VUI) by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on 20 October 2021 and has been given the official name VUI-21OCT-01.

The designation was made on the basis that this sub-lineage has become increasingly common in the UK in recent months, and there is some early evidence that it may have an increased growth rate in the UK compared to Delta. More evidence is needed to know whether this is due to changes in the virus’ behaviour or to epidemiological conditions.

The genome of VUI-21OCT-01 does not have many mutations compared to Delta. However, a small change may be enough to cause a difference in the virus properties in some circumstances. UKHSA is monitoring this closely.

The original Delta variant remains overwhelmingly dominant in the UK, making up approximately 99.8% of all cases. As of 20 October, there were 15,120 cases of VUI-21OCT-01 confirmed by whole genome sequences in England since it was first detected in July. In the last week, VUI-21OCT-01 accounted for approximately 6% of all Delta cases. Cases have been confirmed through whole genome sequencing in all 9 regions of England.

While evidence is still emerging, so far it does not appear this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective. As is routine for any new variants under investigation, UKHSA is carrying out laboratory and epidemiological investigations to better understand the properties of this variant.

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 expertise of my colleagues at UKHSA, and the genomic sequencing capacity developed through 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.

The public health advice is the same for all current variants. Get vaccinated and, for those eligible, come forward for your third or booster dose as appropriate as soon as you are called. Continue to exercise caution. Wear a mask 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 result.

UKHSA continues to examine all available data relating to SARS-CoV-2 variants in the UK and abroad. We constantly assess the genetic diversity within the known variants of concern (VOCs) to inform our ongoing public health response to the pandemic. New sub-lineages within Delta continue to be identified. This is to be expected and UKHSA is monitoring the situation closely.

Friday 1 October 2021

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has published variant technical briefing 24.

UKHSA releases weekly updates on the number of confirmed new cases of variants of concern and variants under investigation identified in the UK.

Previous updates were published by Public Health England

#AceHealthDesk report …………Published: Nov.30: 2021:

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