COVID vaccines appear to work against the Indian variant – after jabbed care home workers in Delhi got infected but none died.
It comes amid fears cases of the variant, which have started to rise in the UK, could make shots less effective.
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Experts have sparked worries the UK's roadmap could be delayed in order to get the variant under control.
But in promising reports from India, 33 people who had been given the AstraZeneca jab caught Covid but didn't become seriously ill or died from the virus.
It is unclear how the Indian variant reacts to vaccines, but this suggests the mutated virus won't cause high numbers of hospitalisation or death in protected people.
Pfizer thinks it's vaccine will also work against the variant – but there is no real world evidence on any large studies for any vaccines yet.
It comes as:
- Experts warned that the Indian variant could be up to 60 per cent more transmissible than the Kent strain
- The work-from-home order should END next month when lockdown is over, the PM said today
- New variants pose a 'lethal danger' and could spark the worst Covid wave yet, Boris Johnson warned
- The government announced a full public inquiry into coronavirus, beginning in Spring 2022
- A senior minister refused to rule out local lockdowns to crack down on Covid hotspots
Yesterday Boris Johnson has warned potential new variants pose a “lethal danger” and could spark the worst Covid wave yet.
The Prime Minister urged caution as lockdown eases but added the data is looking positive – as the NHS reached a milestone of 45 million jabs.
He added the Indian strain is "something we are increasingly concerned about in the UK".
Cases of the variant are growing at a rapid rate, already making up an estimated quarter of new cases.
Yesterday India saw 348,421 new cases of Covid and 4,205 deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.
Mr Johnson stressed the need for caution and vigilance as lockdown is eased, with the next step on May 17.
He said "the end of the lockdown is not the end of the pandemic".
The Indian variant, called B.1.617.2, is alarming due to its ability to spread fast.
Current evidence suggests that vaccines will work against severe disease at least to some degree, but this has not been studied intensely in real world populations.
It is based on the fact it has fewer “escape mutations” in its genetics which allow it to dodge antibodies in the blood.
The PM could be forced to delay the total lifting of lockdown on June 21 if cases of the Indian Covid variant continue to spiral.
Professor James Naismith, from the University of Oxford, warned BBC Radio 4's Today programme, that the variant may spread "way beyond" the local areas where it has been detected.
He said: "The vaccines don't 100 per cent prevent infection for people.
"What they do, is they almost 100 per cent prevent hospitalisation and serious illness."
Foreign office minister James Cleverly said the PM is prepared to alter his roadmap to freedom if scientists advise him it's necessary to do so.
Asked if the final stage of the reopening could be put back, he replied: "The scientists on Sage will make their assessments.
"They will report that to Government and we will make the decisions based on the data and the evidence they provide.
"The PM and the health secretary have always been clear the easing of restrictions, which will allow us to get back to normality, will be done at a pace and in a way which is safe and we will always be driven by the data."
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