COVID-19: Indian coronavirus variant expected to become most dominant in UK, says Professor Chris Whitty | UK News

COVID-19: Indian coronavirus variant expected to become most dominant in UK, says Professor Chris Whitty | UK News

The Indian coronavirus variant is expected to become the most dominant in the UK and is more transmissible than the one that originated in Kent, government scientists have said.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told a Downing Street news conference on Friday: “We expect over time this variant will overtake and come to dominate in the UK in the way that B117 took over and other variants have taken over prior to that.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson added that due to high rates of variant cases in Bolton and the North West, England’s final easing of restrictions on 21 June could be delayed.

But he sought to reassure the public, saying there is “no evidence” that current COVID-19 vaccines will not be effective against the variant.

Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘I have to level with you’: PM airs variant concerns

According to modelling, there is a “realistic possibility” that the B.1617.2 variant first detected in India could be “50% more transmissible” than the one that emerged in Kent at the end of last year.

The government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M-O) warned it could cause a “significant resurgence” of the virus, as “there are still too few adults vaccinated” to stop its progress.

It said that if transmissibility is between 40% and 50% higher than the Kent strain, the peak in hospitalisations would be “similar or larger” than the ones in spring 2020 and January 2021 – if no restrictions are imposed.

On Thursday, Public Health England (PHE) published data that showed Indian variant cases have doubled in the past week from 520 to 1,313.

It also revealed that four people have died as a result of it, but stressed the overall risk remains relatively low.

Currently India is on the government’s red travel list, which means anyone arriving in the UK from there must stay in a government-sanctioned hotel for 10 days.

But experts and opposition politicians have expressed concern this will still allow the variant to enter the UK.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran told Sky News on Friday that going ahead with Monday’s lifting of the ban on international travel is a “failure of government strategy to contain variants coming into this country”.

“We need to batten down the hatches,” she said.

“It was the Kent variant that we exported, we’ve now got the Indian variant coming back, this won’t be the last of it.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

50+ and vulnerable to get second jab within 56 days

To mitigate the spread of the variant of concern (VOC), Mr Johnson announced on Friday that the over-50s and clinically vulnerable are now eligible to get their second vaccine doses three weeks sooner than before.

Areas such as Greater Manchester where it appears to be spreading are also lobbying the government to roll out vaccinations to all age groups.

A pharmacy in Sefton on Merseyside is calling everyone over the age of 18 to get their jab, despite it going against government guidance.



Source link

No Comments

Post A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.