CASES of the Indian variant in hotspot areas in the North West are concentrated in school age kids and young adults, experts have warned.
In Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen, the Indian variant is now the dominant strain and experts say its hitting those who have not yet had a jab.
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Professor Christina Pagel, Clinical Operational Research Unit (CORU) at University College London (UCL) and a member of the Independent Sage Group this morning warned that the variant has continued to spread outside of cases related to travel.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme she said that 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."
It is thought that if children are catching the bug, they could then take it home and pass it onto older relatives as they haven't yet received a coronavirus vaccine.
So far in the UK over 36.8 million Brits have had a first dose, with 20.5 million having had a second.
Most people in older age groups are vaccinated but not everyone can have a jab and while vaccines are thought to be effective to some extent – it is not known how much protection they give when it comes to the Indian variant.
Prof Pagal's comments echo that of Bolton's Conservative MP David Greenahalgh who this morning warned that there could be unrest in the area if it was plunged into another local lockdown.
Bolton is currently the most infected place in the country with 867 new cases in the seven days to May 14 – the equivalent of 301.5 cases per 100,000 people.
This is up from 150.2 in the seven days to May 7.
Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire has the second highest rate, up from 86.2 to 131.6, with 197 new cases.
Mr Greenhalgh said there was "no sign" of cases coming down in Bolton but added that leaders are doing everything they can to hold back the variants that "appear to be more transmissable".
He added: "The majority of cases are in younger age groups, primary, secondary school and people in their 20s."
He explained that there hadn't been an increase in hospitalisations but that it was expected that cases would continue to rise in the area for the next two weeks.
It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that people in hospital with the Indian variant in places such as Bolton had been eligible for the jab but hadn't received it.
He warned the Indian variant could “spread like wildfire among the unvaccinated groups” and urged people to come forward for the jab.
Officials in Bolton have started giving out jabs to youngsters – including teenagers – as they try to head off the threat of new restrictions.
Data from across the country shows that the Indian variant is now dominant in 23 areas.
Surge testing had to be rolled out at a Greater Manchester college campus this week after 17 students caught the bug.
About 1,300 students and 80 staff at The Manchester College's Nicholls Campus in Ardwick are being encouraged to get a Covid-19 PCR test at two mobile testing units on site.
This will track down any more asymptomatic cases and prevent any further spread within the college and wider community.
Cases of the Indian variant have also been detected in Leicester and surge testing is currently being carried out in an unnamed school.
The cases are linked to travel from India, with the country going on the "red list" last Friday, meaning only UK citizens can enter from India after quarantining in a hotel.
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