Vaccine does work against 'Indian' Covid variant, says Matt Hancock

Early data has suggested that Covid vaccines are effective against the ‘Indian’ variant of the virus, the Health Secretary has said.

Appearing on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Matt Hancock confirmed that over 1300 cases of the variant had been detected in the UK. He said early research from Oxford University had given the Government a ‘degree of confidence’ that Covid vaccines protect against the mutation.

He urged people to continue getting their jabs when invited to by the NHS, emphasising that it is those without the vaccine who are ‘ending up in hospital’ in hotspots such as Bolton.

The Health Secretary continued: ‘There’s new very early data out from Oxford University, and I would stress that this is from the labs, it’s not clinical data, and it’s very early.

‘But it does give us a degree of confidence that the vaccines work against this Indian variant, but it is clearly more transmissible and has been spreading fast in the groups where there’s a cluster.

‘That means that we can stay on course with our strategy of using the vaccine to deal with the pandemic and opening up carefully and cautiously but we do need to be really very vigilant to the spread of the disease. We have a high degree of confidence that the vaccine will overcome.’

Hancock said it was too early to say whether the variant spreads faster than other mutations, but admitted ‘we have a problem’ if it is 50% more tranmissible.

He said it should not impact the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, and in particular pointed to the Covid restrictions due to ease on Monday May 17.

Hancock went on: ‘It may be that the transmissibility [of the variant] is much lower, and in that case there will be almost no impact on our roadmap and our future number of cases.

‘We just don’t know yet. That’s why it’s appropriate to continue on the roadmap, and be cautious and careful.’

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