The coronavirus Indian variant is growing fast in the UK, new reports have revealed.
First discovered in samples taken in Britain back in February.
But there are now fears that it could put the final unlocking on June 21 in jeopardy.
Even Boris Johnson has said the rise in cases is making him “anxious”.
Coronavirus Indian variant in the UK: Five facts you need to know
There are now three types of the Indian variant of COVID-19 in the UK.
The latest figures show infection rates have pretty much tripled in just a week.
But they are still at a relatively low level.
This time last week 520 cases were recorded in the UK.
Now that figure stands at 1,313.
The outbreak isn’t concentrated
However, the outbreak isn’t a concentrated one, which is raising fears among scientists.
Instead cases focused in several areas. Erewash in Derbyshire, Bolton and Moray in Scotland currently have the highest rates.
Oxford University’s James Naismith told BBC Radio 4’s Today show that it’s now a “country-wide problem”.
He said: “I think we should view it as a country-wide problem. It will get everywhere. We keep learning this lesson, but we know that this will be the case.”
The vaccine could be less effective against Indian variant
Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia gave more reasons that people should be concerned.
He said the variant features two “escape mutations” that “are causing people to be concerned”.
Applying what we know about other human coronaviruses would suggest this is going to be even less controlled by vaccine.
“There’s laboratory evidence that both of these are escape mutations,” he said.
He explained: “Basically, applying what we know about other human coronaviruses would suggest that this is going to be even less controlled by vaccine.
“But we don’t know that for certain at the moment.”
But the European Medicines Agency has said it is “pretty confident” the vaccine will work against the Indian variant.
Second jabs brought forward to combat rise?
There are now calls for the second doses of the COVID vaccine to be brought forward to try and stop the spread of the Indian variant.
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Government minister Nadhim Zahawi has said steps could also include vaccinating younger people in multi-generational households.
Officials are also said to be considering “surge vaccines”.
Indian variant in the UK: Lockdown easing under threat
The Department of Health and Social Care has told ministers they cannot rule out imposing local restrictions if they are necessary to stop the spread of the variant.
Yesterday (May 13), Boris Johnson said there was no evidence to suggest the planned lockdown easing on May 17 could not go ahead.
However, Professor Hunter said step four of the roadmap out of lockdown “is in doubt”.
This is due to take place on 21 June and would see all legal limits on social contact lifted.
Jeremy Hunt said earlier today (May 14) that early action is needed to avoid a “damaging” fourth lockdown.
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