Covid: Indian variant 'now dominant' in the UK

Thamoor Faqir prepares to give a Covid-19 vaccination at the Penny Street vaccination centre in Blackburn as the spread of the Indian coronavirus variant could lead to the return of local lockdowns ministers have acknowledged. Bolton Blackburn with Darw

Thamoor Faqir prepares to give a Covid-19 vaccination at the Penny Street vaccination centre in Blackburn as the spread of the Indian coronavirus variant could lead to the return of local lockdowns ministers have acknowledged. Bolton Blackburn with Darw

"The way to tackle variants is to use the same measures to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 we have used before".

On 22 May, PHE scientists spelled out the specifics: three weeks after the first dose, both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs were 33 per cent effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant, versus 50 per cent against the Kent variant.

Taking to Twitter, the WHO Nepal account wrote this morning: "WHO is not aware of any new variant of SARS-CoV-2 being detected in Nepal".

Meanwhile, a paper by the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology showed that Delhi's surge in Covid-19 cases in April was linked to the Delta variant overtaking the Alpha variant, the Hindustan Times reported. The B.1.617.1 sub-lineage was detected in 8,900 samples, while over 10,000 of these samples tested for the Delta variant.

Confirmed cases of the Delta variant in Bolton have risen by 795 over the past week to 2,149, with Blackburn with Darwen seeing a near doubling of cases to 724 in total. It has not been declared a new variant.

The majority had not yet been vaccinated.

The World Health Organisation says it is "not aware" of any new Nepal Variant of Covid-19.

Of the 12,431 Indian variant cases so far confirmed in the United Kingdom, 10,797 are in England, 1,511 in Scotland, 97 in Wales and 26 in Northern Ireland.

John Swinney told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland: "If you go back over the last 12 months, relatively few children have been hospitalised as a outcome of Covid so we're now seeing obviously a concentration of hospitalisation outwith the over-50s group because the overwhelming majority of that group are vaccinated and have some protection".

'Portugal to go amber and no green list additions'
The government, meanwhile, is continuing to urge people to avoid non-essential travel to amber list countries. Reports also note "a strong expectation" more countries will be added to the red list today.

Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious disease, University of Edinburgh, said: "These data can not tell us whether the vaccine will be any less effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalisation and death; we need to wait for the actual data on these outcomes". When a copy is not completely the same, a new strain is created. "They should say what is the "Nepal variant' if there is any". This is a virus that is changing all the time".

The study found that after just one dose of the Pfizer jab, people are less likely to develop antibody levels against the Delta variant, as high as those seen against the previously dominant Alpha variant, which was first discovered in Kent.

There have been 97 confirmed outbreaks in primary or secondary schools that have had at least one variant case linked to them over the last four weeks, representing one in 250 schools.

Emma Wall, UCLH Infectious Diseases consultant and senior clinical research fellow for the Legacy study, said: "Our study is created to be responsive to shifts in the pandemic so that we can quickly provide evidence on changing risk and protection". He points out that "the same was initially suggested for the Kent variant but was later shown not to be true".

- Will vaccines work against the Indian variant?

File: People are given the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Cardiff, Wales.

It also said that most participants who received two doses of Pfizer vaccine "would be protected against B.1.617.2 infection".

Ms Sturgeon said at her Covid restrictions update this week: "We now have a significant advantage that we didn't have in the first or second wave".

"And we now have evidence that the link between cases and serious illness, hospitalisation and deaths appears to be weakening". We are increasingly confident that the vaccines are effective. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

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