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Rise of B.1.617.2 in the UK

The B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India is expected to soon be the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 in the UK, the Guardian reports.

Last week, the World Health Organization classified the B.1.617 variant as a "variant of concern" due to preliminary studies suggesting it may be a more transmissible version of the virus. Public health officials in the UK additionally reported last week that B.1.617.2, a sublineage of B.1.617, may be transmitted as easily as or even more easily than the B.1.1.7, or UK, variant.

According to the Guardian, Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, has told MPs that there are now 2,323 confirmed B.1.617.2 cases there, as compared to 1,313 on Thursday. Further, it reports that a new analysis from the Wellcome Sanger Institute found that the variant was present in about 30 percent of COVID-19 samples collected the first full week of May.

"There is no evidence that the recent rapid rise in cases of the B.1.617.2 variant shows any signs in slowing," Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia tells the Guardian. "This variant will overtake [the UK variant] and become the dominant variant in the UK in the next few days, if it hasn't already done so."

The University of Oxford's John Bell tells the Financial Times that there is increasing evidence that vaccines are protective against this variant.