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Boris Johnson ‘anxious’ about ‘Indian’ variant spread in UK

Published: (Updated: ) in European News by .

The variant ‘is beginning to spread increasingly rapidly in certain areas across the country,’ the UK Department of Health and Social Care said.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “anxious” about the spread of the so-called Indian variant in the country, he said on Thursday. The statement follows the release of government data showing that the strain of coronavirus, known as B1.617.2, has recorded 1,313 cases in the country this week, a substantial increase from last week’s 520.

Johnson’s government is now implementing measures to halt the spread of the variant, including “surge testing”, which is an increase in testing in impacted locations, including in some cases door-to-door testing. Surge testing is currently being carried out in some parts of London, Bolton, Birmingham and Worcestershire.

Documents published by Public Health England (PHE) show that the Indian variant appears to be more infectious than the first wave SARS-CoV-2 virus. Nadhim Zahawi, the U.K.’s vaccine minister, said on Sky News on Friday that the government roadmap for exiting lockdown, which includes a further loosening of restrictions on Monday, “remains in place”. When asked about local lockdowns, the minister echoed Boris Johnson’s Thursday comments: “we rule nothing out.”

As well as testing, the government is also focusing on vaccines. Doses are being sent to affected areas, and the possibility that certain groups could receive an early second dose is being considered. Zahawi said that the government “will continue to be guided by the clinicians, by the data” as they make decisions.

PHE said there is insufficient information regarding the severity of illness that the variant causes, and “as yet no confirmation of impact” on vaccine effectiveness. The European Medicines Agency said on Wednesday that is “confident” that the coronavirus vaccines it has approved are effective against B1.617.2.

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Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-government-boris-johnson-coronavirus-indian-variant-spread/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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