There are ways to identify the Delta variant

16 September 2021
What was claimed

There is no test that can identify the Delta variant.

Our verdict

The Delta variant can be identified through analysis of viral genetic material from positive PCR tests. The Delta variant is the main strain of Covid-19 in the UK currently.

What was claimed

The Delta variant doesn’t exist and is a media-fabricated scam.

Our verdict

The Delta variant is real. It has affected many countries across the world, including the UK, and is a recognised variant of concern designated by bodies such as Public Health England and the World Health Organisation.

A post shared on Facebook says: “There is no “delta variant” - no clinical test can diagnose you with “Delta” and the entire narrative is a media- fabricated scam”. This is incorrect. 

As we have written before, although there isn’t an individual test for each of the variants, further analysis of positive PCR tests can identify which strain, including Delta, is present. This is done through analysis such as ‘genomic sequencing’ and ‘genotyping’.

Genotyping is a laboratory analysis that identifies the presence of variants by identifying the genetic sequence in particular parts of the viral genetic material. Genomic sequencing, by contrast, determines the full sequence of the viral genetic material. This means that genotyping can be used to identify the presence of variants, such as Delta. Genomic sequencing can also do this, and can also be used to detect new variants or new mutations within these variants. 

The Department of Health and Social Care describes genomic sequencing as “laboratory analysis that identifies a virus’s genetic make-up”. This is important because it allows “new variants or mutations in existing variants to be detected”. 

The Delta variant does exist, and is not a scam created by the media. The Delta variant was first detected in significant numbers in India as part of the B1.617 lineage. This lineage was then detected in the UK, and the B1.617.2 strain, which became known as the Delta variant, became a designated variant of concern in the UK in May 2021 (having previously been made a variant of interest in April). It is the dominant strain of Covid-19 currently in the UK—approximately 99% of sequenced cases are of the Delta variant. 

As we have written before, a variant under investigation is a variant that could have concerning properties with regard to transmission, ability to evade the immune system or vaccines, or ability to make people more unwell than previous variants. A variant under investigation may be upgraded to become a variant of concern if it then actually demonstrates these properties.  

The Delta variant is also present in a number of other countries across the world, and was designated a variant of interest by the World Health Organisation in April 2021, and a variant of concern in May 2021. These are variants which possess certain criteria (similar to the UK criteria) but that the WHO also identifies as posing an increased risk to global public health.

We have written more about the Delta variant, and other Covid-19 variants previously. 

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because there are ways to identify the Delta variant of Covid-19, and the Delta variant is the most common strain of Covid-19 in the UK currently.

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