Scientists have created a video map that shows the speed and scale at which the new variant of the Covid-19 virus has spread to Wales.
Lighthouse Labs identified the new COVID variant in the lab’s PCR test and have been able to use this new science to track the spread of the new COVID variant across the country.
The video shows the virus spreading quickly from the south-east of England, where it was originally identified, to the north-east and south-east of Wales.
The new variant, known as B.1.1.7, has been estimated to be 50% more easily transmitted than common variants, although it appears to affect people’s health in the same way.
Areas with the highest incidence in the study correlate with areas now reporting high NHS load and hospitalisation, Lighthouse Labs said.
“Although the speed of the spread is shocking, we’re working really closely with the government to share our scientific discoveries and advancements, which in-turn informs decision making across the devolved nations, so that we can be in the best position to beat the virus,” Dr Mark Wigglesworth, Site Director at the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab, said.
“While a new national lockdown is not what anyone would have wanted, our scientists’ work in discovering the spread of the new variant will be pivotal in informing government policy, protecting the NHS and saving lives.”
Professor Chris Molloy, CEO of MDC and founding director of the Lighthouse Lab network believes it demonstrates the quality of the science that underpins what is the largest diagnostics project in UK history.
“Today’s high-quality data from the MDC Lighthouse team shows the excellence of its science at a national scale,” he said.
“The Lighthouses are high-powered beacons into the darkness of this disease, combining industrial scientific rigour and close coordination with NHS and PHE in the service of the nation.”
The ThermoFisher PCR test, used at many of the Lighthouse Lab sites, measures 3 genetic markers of SARS-CoV-2. Lighthouse scientists have shown that the new variant exhibits ‘S-gene dropout’, whereby one of the markers – the S-gene – fails to amplify, but the other two genetic markers (ORF1ab and N) are found, confirming a positive COVID result.