The dramatic rise in UK cases of the India variant could undermine the country’s roadmap for reopening, scientists are warning today.
Prof Christina Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at University College London and a member of the Independent Sage group of experts, said the rise in cases was worrying enough to delay the next stage of social reopening due this coming Monday, 17 May:
We’ve done this so many times – waited until things got really bad before we realised we should have acted several weeks ago. So why don’t we actually act several weeks ago – which is now!
The variant, called B.1.617.2, is one of three closely related variants that were initially detected in India. Public Health England designated it a “variant of concern” on Friday, acknowledging it appears to be at least as transmissible as the dominant so-called Kent variant in the UK. It is unclear if and to what extent B.1.617.2 can reduce vaccine effectiveness.
Overall it accounts for about 6% of new cases, according to genomic sequencing. But the figure rises to more than 50% in some areas such as Blackburn and Bolton.
It comes as the WHO said Britain had the most cases of the variant outside India.
You can read the full story on the scientists’ concerns here: