India 'took its eye off the ball with coronavirus' says expert
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Scientists have identified three different strains of the Indian variant of Covid, those being B1617, B1617.2 and B1617.3. Now, Public Health England (PHE) has reported a total of 400 cases of the Indian variant in the country.
Last week, there were 182 cases of the Indian variant, identified as the original B1617 strain.
PHE said the three linked strains are “variants under investigation”, meaning any cases will be followed up with contact tracing.
But the health body has repeated they are not yet deemed as “variants of concern”, and added there is “currently no evidence that these variants cause more severe disease or render the vaccines currently deployed any less effective”.
In addition, there have been another 67 cases of the South African B1351 variant of Covid, for a total of 737.
PHE said they are carrying out increased laboratory tests on the three Indian strains to better understand its mutations.
In a statement, they said: “PHE is carrying out increased laboratory testing, in collaboration with international partners to better understand the impact of the mutations on the behaviour of the virus and to ensure all appropriate public health interventions are taken.
“Identified case numbers remain low and are geographically dispersed in England.
“Where cases have been identified, additional follow up of cases, testing of contacts and targeted case finding will be used to limit the spread of these variants.”
It comes after Ugur Sahin, CEO of vaccine manufacturer BioNTech, expressed confidence the company’s jab works against the B1617 strain of the Indian variant.
Speaking to CNBC, he shared the company had tested its vaccine against similar “double mutant” strains of Covid, and said: “We are evaluating [the strain] … and the data will be available in the coming weeks.
“However, we had similar double mutants in our prior testing, and we are confident based on the data we had in the past that we might see a similar fashion of neutralisation of this virus.
“But we will only know it if we have the data in our hands.”
India was placed on the UK’s ‘red list’ for travel last Friday, meaning anyone returning from the country must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.
Yesterday saw another 597,025 vaccine doses administered in the UK.
So far, the UK has administered 34,094,048 first doses and 14,043,961 second doses of vaccine.
The figures represent 51 percent of Brits receiving their first dose, and 21 percent receiving their second.
Yesterday also saw 2,445 cases and 22 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
In total, the UK has seen 4,414,242 cases and 127,502 deaths. Variant cases double in a week after two mutations.
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