Europe

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

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

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 it spiralling out of control.

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.

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

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