In the UK, there are currently 13 variants of COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) in circulation. The variant with the highest number of cases in the UK is the variant that was detected in the UK in September 2020.
All viruses naturally change (or mutate). Over time, these changes can persist causing new variants of a virus to develop.
It is important that we both study and keep a track of the numbers and types of variants present in the UK, to help inform the best ways to implement public health action in our response to COVID-19.
What are the main categories of COVID-19 virus variants?
The COVID-19 virus variants fall into two groups:
- Variants under Investigation (VUI) – These are variants that are transmitted within communities and that have concerning properties that need to be investigated further.
- Variants of Concern (VOC) – These are VUIs that are found to transmit more easily than previous variants and/or have increased ability to cause ill health.
There are currently 4 designated Variants of Concern and 9 Variants under Investigation. For information on the recent data on variant distribution in the UK read the Public Health Matters blog or visit the Government website.
Rapid testing is available for everyone without symptoms. Extensive clinical evaluation shows rapid tests are accurate. For every 1,000 rapid tests, there are fewer than one false positive result.
Twice-weekly testing is important to help identify those without symptoms who may have coronavirus and will be spreading it without realising. Getting a rapid test will help prevent COVID-19 outbreaks and help us all to get back to a more normal way of life.
Going to visit someone you know is more at risk of COVID-19? Take a rapid test. You’ll get your result in 30 minutes.
Getting a rapid test for COVID-19 in Lewisham is quick and easy. You can:
- Collect rapid tests to take home at one of nearly 40 local collection points in Lewisham. Find your nearest collection point by entering your location or postcode on this map.
- Visit one of our rapid test centres to take a test – no need to book, just walk-in. Find a rapid testing centre near you on our website.
- Order home test kits to be delivered via the Government website.
- Collect rapid tests from your workplace if this is offered to you.
Even if you have had the vaccine, you should continue to get a rapid test twice a week.
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus. You can now book an appointment if you:
- are aged 40 or over
- are an eligible frontline health or social care worker
- are clinically extremely vulnerable (at high risk from coronavirus)
- are clinically vulnerable (moderate risk)
- have a learning disability
- are a main carer for someone at high risk of COVID-19.
Book your COVID-19 vaccination appointment via the NHS website or by calling 119, free of charge.
Eligible groups are changing quickly. You can see who can get the COVID-19 vaccine on the NHS website.
Each day as more people are vaccinated in Lewisham, we reduce the risk the virus poses to ourselves, our loved ones and the most vulnerable in our community.