The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed Friday that the Delta variant sub-lineage (Delta AY.4.2) was designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) on Oct. 20, 2021, and has been given the official name VUI-21OCT-01, Trend reports citing Xinhua.
The UKHSA said the designation was made on the basis that this sub-lineage has become increasingly common in the country in recent months, and there is some early evidence that it may have an increased growth rate in Britain compared to Delta.
As of Oct. 20, there were 15,120 confirmed cases in England since it was first detected in July. It accounted for approximately 6 percent of all cases during the last week. Cases have been confirmed through whole genome sequencing in all nine regions of England.
The UKHSA said it's monitoring it closely, although the original Delta variant is "overwhelmingly dominant" in the country, making up approximately 99.8 percent of all cases.
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.
"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," said Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UKHSA.