Indian variant found in Dudley as cases rise

Yolanda Curtis
May 14, 2021

Britain's government is anxious about the spread of the Covid-19 variant first detected in India and rules nothing out to tackle a sharp rise in cases of it, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday.

Prof Naismith said the variant may spread "way beyond" the local areas where it has been detected, suggesting much wider community transmission of the variant.

The number of cases of the Indian variant of concern in London more than doubled in a week, the Standard has established.

As well as testing, the government is also focusing on vaccines.

"And as we were just hearing, there's quite a concentration of that in the north-west of England and there's a lot of traffic between the north-east of Wales and the north-west of England so we were considering a small number of further easements from Monday but have chose to hold back on those until we get the advice from Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) met yesterday, our own scientific advice which we'll receive imminently, just to make sure that we are continuing to take a precautionary approach in case the Indian variant is on the march, and therefore Wales would be vulnerable to it as well". Over 5,000 households were visited in Lambeth over 3 days, helping many more residents to access testing.

The new data, released by Public Health England (PHE), highlights growing concerns about the new variant with the government set to launch "vaccination surges" in the worst-hit areas.

Of the 400 cases, 106 were in people who had travelled outside of the UK. The variant has also been identified in Newcastle, although the number of cases and locations have not been disclosed.

Asked on BBC Breakfast what is stopping vaccines being given to younger age groups in affected areas now, Mr Zahawi said it takes three weeks to build protection from a first dose and to have any effect on transmission of the virus.

What is the India variant?

He told the PA news agency: "B16172 seems to be slightly more transmissible and capable of outcompeting the B117 or B1351 (South African variant) to become the dominant variant in the UK".

Prime minister Johnson said there is "increasing concern" in the United Kingdom about the variant first identified in India.

Health experts said they "haven't seen any hint" of a current Covid variant that can fully evade the effectiveness of vaccines.

Scientists are not yet clear how effective vaccines will be against the new variant.

"But if that increases cases in elderly and starts to increase hospitalisations, and puts pressure on the NHS again then I think step four would be in doubt".

"We don't know enough to know yet whether the Indian strain will behave differently than that".

Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London, said: "What you can see in recent times - basically since the widespread rollout of the vaccine - and we showed this last time, that you see a decoupling of the relationship between the React infection and a lagged number of deaths".

Could the variant delay lockdown ending?

After England's initial coronavirus lockdown, Johnson sought a regional approach to restrictions, which ultimately failed, and two further national lockdowns followed. When asked about local lockdowns, the minister echoed Boris Johnson's Thursday comments: "we rule nothing out".

Professor Steven Riley, from Imperial College London, said whether the road map for England continued on its planned trajectory is a "government decision" and was optimistic as he suggested the United Kingdom was now in a good place.

Most people with symptoms have at least one of these symptoms, although some do not experience any.

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