Data compiled by the Wellcome Sanger Institute indicates that the COVID-19 variant first identified in India isn’t the the dominant COVID-19 strain in Herefordshire at present, despite four sequences being recorded in Herefordshire over the past week.

The data shows that the B.1.1.7 (Kent Variant) remains the dominant variant, with 83.3% of cases recorded identified as this strain. 16.7% of cases recorded have been identified as the B.1.617.2 (Indian Variant) at present.

Lineages (raw) | COVID-19 Genomic Surveillance – Wellcome Sanger Institute

This will be a welcome relief to local health officials, with no signs at present that this new variant of concern has taken hold in Herefordshire. At present there is no indication that there is widespread community spread of this variant, or any other COVID-19 variant in Herefordshire, with infection rates remaining very low.

It comes as some areas of the United Kingdom have seen significant increases in cases of the B.1.617.2 variant, with places such as Bolton, Blackburn and Bedford all seeing large numbers of cases recorded over recent weeks.

This has led to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and other Government officials refusing to rule out the possibility of local lockdowns or tightened restrictions in areas where this variant takes hold. At present, 2,323 cases of the variant first identified in India have been recorded in the United Kingdom.