Displaying items by tag: Indian variant
Scientist and government advisor Prof Ravi Gupta sees signs of early stages of a third wave. Although new cases are ‘relatively low’, the Indian variant spreads faster than the winter variant. All waves start with low numbers grumbling in the background before infections explode. New infections with the Indian variant are rising daily in both the north and south of England. Very few hospital patients have had two jabs. See Also an evolved version of the Indian strain, 'Nepal' Covid, has so far been found in twenty Britons. It is closely related to the Indian variant, but has new mutations. The Nepal variant has also spread to several European countries. Its detection in Portugal could put their green-list status at risk. SAGE experts warn that the UK cannot panic every time it spots a new strain. The Government is waiting for more data before making a final decision on whether restrictions will be lifted in England on 21 June. That decision will be announced on 14 June.
A leading scientist and member of SAGE says the lockdown easing in June ‘could be delayed', as Indian variant cases are increasing in UK hotspots. Vaccine developers are asserting we will need annual boosters or new vaccines to tackle variants, but some scientists are questioning whether this will be needed. When Pfizer said people could need annual boosters, the ex-director of Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case. Scientists said anticipation around the need for boosters is being set by pharmaceutical executives not health specialists, though ‘preparing for such a need as a precaution was prudent’. The director of WHO’s department of Immunisation said, ‘We don't see the data yet that would inform a decision about whether or not booster doses are needed.’
The Covid variant behind a devastating surge of infections and deaths in India has been detected in many European nations. Data obtained from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control showed that the B.1.617 variant - also known as the Indian variant because it was first detected there - has now been found in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, and the UK. On 21 April the UK had detected 132 cases, the most of any European country. The other European countries have observed fewer than ten cases each, though this may be due to different levels of testing. See also the world article ‘India: Covid crisis’.
Scientists are concerned that vaccines may be less effective against the Indian variant, which could become dominant in the UK by June. The double mutation Covid-19 variant is thought to be behind a sudden surge in cases in India which has overwhelmed hospitals. A total of 182 cases have been detected in the UK, 162 in the five weeks up to 16 April, forcing Boris Johnson to postpone his trip to India and the government to add India to its travel ‘red list’. Viruses regularly mutate but most are insignificant, however, some mutations can make the virus more infectious, deadly or resistant to vaccines. The Indian virus may be one of those - especially because two mutations have come together to help infect cells and evade the immune system.