Sixteen Covid variants sweeping UK as hospitalisations reach highest in seven months

By Bradley Jolly

Some 16 variants of Covid are spreading across the UK and more than 1,000 people are in hospital battling the disease.

Coronavirus cases are once again on the up, with data yesterday showing 37,622 people are currently infected with the virus.

While 1,063 Covid patients were admitted to hospital on Monday September 6 - the highest figure since February 24 - hospitalisations are still far lower than when the virus peaked.

The UK has also dished out a massive 48,370,340 first doses of the Covid vaccine, which protects against the bug's numerous variants.

There are 16 different Covid variants spreading across the UK, according to the latest government data.

The most common of these is the Delta variant, of which a total of 669,401 cases have been recorded in the UK so far.

Here is a lowdown of each of the variants.

Pupils get tested prior to returning to school in Dorset (Getty Images)

Alpha

The Alpha variant was first detected in the UK and was first sequenced here in September 2020.

The UK has so far recorded 277,951 cases of it - 227,217 of which are in England.

Scotland has seen 29,123 Alpha cases, while Wales and Northern Ireland have seen 12,466 and 9,145 respectively.

The variant has so far spread to more than 50 countries. The N501Y mutation, seen in the Alpha variant, may help the virus spread more easily.

Beta

This variant, first detected in South Africa, was first sequenced in the UK in December last year.

There have been only 1,110 cases of it confirmed in the UK so far.

Of these, 996 were found in England, 62 in Scotland, 43 in Wales and nine in Northern Ireland.

Beta also shares the N501Y mutation, like the Alpha variant, meaning the virus could spread more easily.

Beta has a key mutation, called E484K, which could help the virus sidestep some of the body's immune defences.

Sally, a NHS vaccinator, administers a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in London (Dinendra Haria/LNP)

Delta

More than 669,000 cases of this variant have been recorded in the UK so far, 556,542 of which have been found in England.

Scotland has recorded 58,022, Northern Ireland has noted 33,552 and Wales has had 21,285 of the Delta variant.

Delta has undergone some changes to its spike protein, the part of the virus that attaches to human cells.

Analysis by Public Health England found two doses of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines was more than 90 per cent more effective against hospitalisations for Covid caused by the Delta variant.

VOC-21FEB-02

Just 46 cases of the VOC-21FEB-02 variant have been recorded in the UK - with 45 of these in England and just one in Northern Ireland.

No cases of the variant have been recorded in Wales or Scotland so far.

The variant was first detected in the UK in December 2020.

Lockdown restrictions eased across England two months ago (Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

Gamma

Gamma was first detected in Japan in travellers from Brazil in January 2021. It was first noted in the UK in the following month.

A total of 178 cases have been confirmed of the variant in the UK. Of these, 253 were found in England, 23 in Scotland and two in Wales.

The Gamma variant also shares the mutation, N501Y which makes the virus better at infecting cells and spreading.

It also has the E484K mutation that could help the virus sidestep some of the body's immune defences.

Kappa

First detected in India, the Kappa variant was later identified in the UK.

And the UK has since recorded 517 cases of the variant with 471 in England.

Scotland has had 27 cases, Wales 15 and there have been four cases in Northern Ireland.

There are fears cases are rising as people are returning to workplaces and commuting again (REUTERS)

VUI - 21APR-03

This variant was also first detected in India. It is responsible for 18 total cases in the UK, 15 of which were recorded in England and three in Wales.

Little is known about this rare variant.

VUI-21FEB-01

This variant was first detected in the UK in December 2020.

The UK has so far recorded 79 cases of it - all of which have been found in England.

Pupils across the UK have returned to school recently (Getty Images)

Eta

First detected in the UK in December last year, this variant has been logged 512 times across the UK with 460 of those cases in England.

Scotland has logged 40 Eta cases, Wales 10 and Northern Ireland two.

It has been found in 23 countries overall.

VUI-21FEB-04

This variant was first detected in England, with 314 cases confirmed in the country so far.

Another 43 have been detected in Northern Ireland along with 11 in Scotland.

Zeta

This variant, first detected in Brazil, was first sequenced in the UK in November 2020.

Some 60 Zeta cases have been detected in the UK, including 54 in England.

Theta

This variant was first detected in the Philippines.

There have been seven cases detected in England so far and three in Scotland.

VUI-21MAY-01

There have been 185 cases of this variant logged in the UK so far.

All of these cases were in England apart from one found in Wales.

VUI-21MAY-02

First detected in Thailand (in travellers from Egypt), this variant is rare.

A total of 158 cases of this variant have been detected in the UK.

Of these, 147 were in England, four in Scotland, four in Wales and three in Northern Ireland.

Lambda

This variant was first detected in Peru in August 2020.

Just nine cases of it have been found in the UK - with eight of those cases in England and one in Northern Ireland.

MU

This is another rare variant with 53 cases logged in the UK.

A total of 47 have been found in England, three in Scotland, two in Northern Ireland and one in Wales.


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