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Indian Covid variant: Bolton sees dramatic surge in hospitalisations from deadly strain

Indian variant in UK 'poses a problem' says France's Le Drian

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The Greater Manchester town is one of the epicentres for B1.617.2, with an infection rate of 450.7 cases per 100,000 residents. This represents an astonishing 60 percent rise week on week. Data seen by the Manchester Evening News indicates that hospitalisations of people infected with the new strain have more than tripled in just over a month.

NHS figures show that the Royal Bolton Hospital is currently treating 43 patients with B1.617.2, compared to just 13 on April 18.

The Government has continued to advise people to avoid travel to Indian variant hotspots in the UK.

Those areas include Bedford, Blackburn and Darwen, Bolton, Burnley, Kirklees, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside.

Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines provide high levels of protection against the new strain, according to real-world evidence.

Scientists say that the Pfizer vaccine is 88 percent effective against the Indian variant, compared with an efficacy rate of 93 percent against the Kent variant.

The AstraZeneca jab was 60 percent effective against the Indian variant, compared with 66 percent against the Kent variant.

A top Government health adviser has voiced fears that the UK maybe at the start of a third wave of infections.

Professor Andrew Hayward, an infectious disease expert at University College London, told the BBC that he was “very concerned” about the spread of B1.617.2.

Asked whether the UK was facing a third wave, he replied: “I think so.”

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He pointed out that the new strain was spreading quickly through households and that there was increasing evidence of community transmission.

“Obviously we’re doing everything we can to contain the spread of that but it’s likely that more generalised measures may start to be needed to control it,” he said.

He added that a third wave has always been likely but its extent and scope would depend on its transmissibility and the number of people vaccinated.

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