PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has today said that coronavirus vaccines currently being rolled out across the UK are effective against all variants – including the Indian variant.
The B.1617.2 variant is now believed to be the dominant strain across 23 areas in the UK.
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Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon Mr Johnson reassured MPs that the UK could continue to fight the variant – which is believed to be more transmissible.
Addressing MPs he said: "We have looked at the data again this morning, we have increasing confidence vaccines are effective against all variants including Indian."
Mr Johnson added that new variants is one of the issues the UK must face when continuing to ease restrictions.
So far in the UK over 36.8 million Brits have had a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine with 20.5 million having had a second.
Three jabs are being rolled out, the Oxford/AstraZenenca, the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna.
Vaccine uptake has been high across the country but Health Secretary Matt Hancock this week suggested that people who were in hospital with the Indian variant, in hotspot areas such as Blackburn and Bolton had not received the jab even though they were eligible.
Mr Johnson also this afternoon stated that 70 per cent of the country has now received a jab.
It comes as:
- Fury as ‘red list’ passengers forced to mix with green listers as airport closures spark ‘super-spreader’ mixing
- Indian variant cases ‘concentrated in school age kids and young adults’ who haven’t been jabbed
- Flights from India STILL landing in UK with 1,000 passengers arriving today and 110 planes since country put on red list
- Sewage could be used to see if YOUR area will be plunged into local lockdown amid Indian variant
- Brits warned to ‘ration’ hugs amid Indian variant spread fears
Cases are the highest in Bolton – where the Indian strain is now the dominant strain and Mr Johnson thanked residents in the area for coming forward to have their jabs.
Data earlier this week revealed that the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is is 97 per cent effective against India strain.
A study 3,235 vaccinated healthcare workers in India given the AstraZeneca found that only 85 reported symptoms of Covid and just two required hospital treatment.
The study by the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in Delhi there had been no deaths or admissions to intensive care of those who have been vaccinated.
Experts in the UK have however warned that the variant is hitting people who have not yet had a vaccine.
Professor Christina Pagel, Clinical Operational Research Unit (CORU) at University College London (UCL) this morning warned the variant has continued to spread outside of cases related to travel.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme the member of the Independent Sage Group said when it comes to vaccines both Bolton and Blackburn have almost exactly the same uptake age range as the whole of England.
She said: "Cases in most places are concentrated in school age children and young adults who haven't had the opportunity to be vaccinated yet.
"It's now spreading through the community far beyond its original travel cases.
"Week on week the number of traveller cases has been steady but the number of community cases are going up. It's not just about importation -but communities."
"We're pretty sure it's more transmissible than our current dominant variant, the Kent variant, the most transmissible variant in the world."
The spread of the Indian variant has cast doubts on the next stage of Mr Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown.
On Monday, pubs and restaurants were allowed to serve people inside and overnight stays are even permitted.
Travel restrictions are in place across many foreign destinations but Brits have still been able to jet off to places such as Portugal – which is on the green list which means you don't have to quarantine on return if you have a negative test.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer however today criticised the red, amber and green lists and said people are confused as to where they can and cannot go.
He told the Commons: "The messaging is confused and contradictory, and as a result Prime Minister, this week, many people are now travelling to amber list countries but the Government can't say how many or when.
"We are an island nation, we have the power to stop this. Why doesn't the Prime Minister drop this hopeless system, get control of our borders and introduce a proper system that can protect against the threat of future variants of the virus?"
Mr Johnson added that the position on the travel restrictions was clear and that Labour's policies on borders was "hopeless".
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