How the virus is changing
Variant VOC-202012/01 commonly known as the UK variant has been increasing its share of confirmed cases since it was first detected in Scotland in mid-December and is now the dominant strain. This new variant of Covid is more transmissible, however the age and sex distribution appears similar to other variants. It is likely that infection with VOC 202012/01 is associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation and death compared to infection with non-VOC viruses.
Other variants of concern (VOCs) are being monitored, to date there are four VOCs and four variants under investigation. Up to 3 March, there have been 17 confirmed cases and 2 probable cases of the variant VOC-202012/02 (first seen in South Africa) detected in Scotland, and five cases of variant VUI-202101/01 (first seen in Brazil). In addition, this week for the first time cases of the VOC-202101/02 and VUI-202102/03 have been found in Scotland; 2 confirmed and 1 probable case of VOC-202101/02 and two confirmed cases of VUI-202102/03. There is some concern, mainly based on laboratory analysis that these variants may partially escape immunity, from both natural infection and from vaccines currently being deployed, and we are monitoring the evidence on this  .