The COVID-19 variant first discovered in Kent (B.1.1.7) remains the dominant variant of the virus in Herefordshire, with cases of the variant first discovered in India (B.1.617.2) falling.
The Indian variant has taken hold across most areas of the United Kingdom, but areas such as Herefordshire, Wales and South West England are yet to see this strain become the dominant strain, despite early indications that this variant could be more transmissible than the Kent variant.
In the week ending 22nd May, data from the Wellcome Sanger Institute shows that 1 sequence of the Indian variant (B.1.617.2) was recorded in Herefordshire, this is down on the 5 sequences that were recorded the previous week. In comparison, 15 sequences of the Kent variant (B.1.1.7) were recorded in the county, and this is also down on the 16 sequences that were recorded in the previous week.
In the week ending 22nd May, 93.8% of sequences recorded in Herefordshire were of the Kent variant (B.1.1.7) and just 6.2% were of the Indian variant (B.1.617.2). Spread of the Indian variant is considerably down on the previous week when sequences made up almost a quarter (23.8%) of all data.
The spread of the Indian variant across parts of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland has led to some scientists stating that they believe the planned relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions on 21st June should be delayed, however the data in Herefordshire shows that with a successful vaccine rollout with a high take up, that maybe just maybe we can avoid a big third wave of the virus. Hospitalisation and deaths data over the coming two weeks will be critical to the decision that Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes in the middle of this month, but at present, figures in Herefordshire remain promising, even if some other areas of the country are beginning to cause concern again.