United Kingdom anxious about Indian coronavirus variant, Johnson says

United Kingdom anxious about Indian coronavirus variant, Johnson says

Four hundred cases of the Indian Covid-19 variant of concern have been detected in London using genomic sequencing, official figures revealed today.

The UK is "anxious" about the Indian COVID variant and the government is "ruling nothing out" when it comes to tackling its spread, the prime minister has said.

Scientists are keeping a close eye on the spread of the variant across the United Kingdom, with new figures from Public Health England (PHE) on Thursday expected to show a big rise in cases.

He said there is a "very strong sense in United Kingdom at the moment that everybody wants to be part of this - to be contributing to the effort and to seeing this pandemic off".

"We will look at testing the wider organisation that's involved and depending on the level of variants found we will look at potential community surge testing".

Wards with high infection rates are generally in more deprived areas often associated with more cramped living conditions, people in public-facing jobs and individuals with underlying health conditions.

The European Medicines Agency has said it is "pretty confident" that current vaccines will be effective against the variant, an opinion that has been echoed by some British scientists.

A spokeswoman for Blackburn with Darwen Council initially said extra vaccine doses had been secured so all people aged over 18 there could be offered the jab from next week amid rising cases.

"Variants in general are going to be a problem over the next 12 months and what we need is a very clear action plan to cope with them", he added.

"I am glad we are on a one way road to freedom, as the prime minister has stated, and freedom from COVID regulations, as the health secretary has undertaken to MPs in the House of Commons".

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. But then after that, are they linked to the hospitalisations?

"There were 17 cases of the Indian variant in Wales yesterday and over 700 in England", he said.

There are three Indian variants being studied by PHE - one is classed as a variant of concern and two as variants under investigation.

Prof Elliott, director of the React programme, told a press briefing: "This coincides with the rollout of the vaccine programme to the younger part of that age group".

"What they do is, they nearly 100% prevent hospitalisation and serious illness".

Boris Johnson said the COVID-19 variant "has been spreading" and the United Kingdom wants to "grip it".

She said: "As foreign travel opens up more, we do really need people to follow that advice when they return from foreign countries in terms of the quarantining that they need to do".

The Labour politician, who was re-elected as mayor earlier this week, asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for permission to vaccinate everyone over 16 in Greater Manchester.

"The way to mitigate some of the risks we have is to accelerate vaccination, particularly in the communities most affected by the Indian variant, and it is the Indian variant that's largely responsible for the increase we're seen in Bolton", he said.

Prof Finn also said he is not "particularly concerned" that younger age groups may shun vaccines.

"At the moment we have no evidence that it escapes the vaccines or is more severe in its impact on people", he said.

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