India variant a ‘significant risk’ as new clusters throw June 21 reopening in jeopardy

Indian variant is a ’significant risk’ says epidemiologist

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Speaking to Channel 4 News, epidemiologist Prof John Edmunds from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine warned the new India coronavirus variant is a “significant risk”. He explained how the new variant, which originally broke out in Bolton, does “look to be more transmissible” than the Kent variant. But he stressed how he did not “think it is anywhere near as risky” as the December wave adding the UK’s huge vaccine programme will help combat the severity of the variant. His comments come as fears mount that the June 21 lockdown restrictions date could be pushed back as the variant spreads through communities in the UK.

Professor Edmunds said: “The Indian variant is a significant risk, there is no question about that.

“It does look to be more transmissible than the Kent variant which already was more transmissible.”

The epidemiologist added: “Because we are not all vaccinated yet, a third of the adult population is still unvaccinated and vaccines are never one hundred percent effective.

“And an increase in transmission is likely to lead to an increase in hospitalisations and therefore, unfortunately, deaths.”

JUST IN: Robert Peston gives depressing lockdown update as June 21 easing ‘close to nil’

But epidemiologist added a lighter note, saying: “So it is a risk, but I don’t think it is anywhere near as risky, we are not in the situation we were in back in December when that really was a very, very significant problem we had.

“Because hospitals were already full from the autumn wave and the Kent variant was taking off.”

Professor Edmunds highlighted: “And of course we weren’t vaccinated.”

But he stressed “where we are now is a much better place” than in December when covid rates rocketed and vaccination rates were lower. 

Indian variant: Vaccine rollout strategy discussed by expert

The concerns come as Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed yesterday that tests have suggested jabs are effective against the Indian variant of covid.

Mr Hancock said: “Vaccines save lives, they protect you, they protect your loved ones and they will help us all get out of this pandemic.”

The Health secretary sought to reassure Britons hoping for a full end to Covid curbs on June 21 by saying there was strong protection from vaccines despite cases of the Indian variant doubling to 2,323 in the last week.

But he told MPs most people in a hospital during the surge of the Indian variant had not been vaccinated, despite being offered and eligible for jabs.


Indian variant set to become dominant UK strain within days [INSIGHT]
Whole of Bolton should be vaccinated within two weeks, says MP [UPDATE]
Matt Hancock: UK will beat Indian variant with jabs [UPDATE]

There were a reported 1,979 new Coronavirus cases reported in the UK on Monday 17th May.

And five deaths were recorded in the last 24-hour period.

Over 315,000 vaccinations were administered in the UK on Sunday meaning 36,704,672 Brits have now had at least one dose of the vaccine.

While 20,287,403 Britons have now had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine as of Sunday.

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