At least two samples of a new variant of coronavirus have been taken in Lincolnshire, according to a new study.
As the country waits to see whether the government will implement tougher lockdown measures from Boxing Day, data from the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) has looked at where the new variant, called VUI-202012/01, has been found.
A map compiled by COG-UK shows two samples in Lincolnshire up to December 17 — though it notes these are not necessarily the real number of total cases.
According to Sky News, Jeffrey Barrett, lead COVID-19 statistical geneticist at COG-UK, told a Science Media Centre briefing on Tuesday: “They’re relatively small numbers, but I think it is important to be aware that it is certainly not the case that this is just completely geographically constrained to what is the current tier 4 area.”
The data on the new variant has been collected by COG-UK from across the UK. See the map here.
At a Downing Street news conference on Monday, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, warned more areas in England see tougher restrictions due to the spread of the mutation.
The new variant is known to spread up to 70% faster than the original, however health bosses say there is no evidence it is more dangerous.
But ministers are concerned that more cases, appearing faster, could bring more pressure on the NHS.
MK LHL testing data showing increasing prevalence of H69/V70 variant in positive test data – which is detected incidentally by the commonly used 3-gene PCR test. pic.twitter.com/1U0pVR9Bhs
— Tony Cox (@The_Soup_Dragon) December 19, 2020
Health bosses in Lincolnshire have not had cases confirmed to them so far, however, they said it is was “unlikely it hasn’t arrived in the county.”
They are expecting tougher measures to come into place as the “more dominant” virus takes hold.
Lincoln and Boston have also been included in the latest list of mass COVID testing in the community.
Government ministers are meeting on Wednesday to discuss if stricter measures should be taken in some of the worst-affected areas of the country.