A vaccine rollout is underway for over 18s in three parts of the UK as the government are “anxious” over the spread of the Indian variant and “ruling nothing out.
The government have been force to start the vaccine rollout in Lancashire and adults who have not yet had the jab around Blackburn and Darwen will be offered it from next week.
Public Health England have classified the Indian strain as “variant of concern” and is formally called B.1.617.2 and scientists are concerned over evidence it is more transmissible.
The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock told the Times Radio, “We are worried about the Indian variant.
Hancock added, “You will have seen the very stringent measures that we have taken at the border.
“We have got enhanced tracking and tracing of all of those Indian variants that we see.
“The evidence is that it is much easier to transmit than the original strain and easier to transmit even than the so-called Kent variant which is now the predominant type in the UK.
“It just shows that we have got to be vigilant.”
Johnson was asked if local lockdowns were possible, he said, “There are a range of things we could do, we want to make sure we grip it.
“Obviously there’s surge testing, there’s surge tracing.”
Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown is now at serious threat as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) are concerned over the rapid rise of the Indian variant spreading throughout the UK.
Last week there was 520 cases of the new variant which has now increased to 1,723 confirmed cases, COG-UK scientists said.
Professor Christina Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at University College London and a member of the Independent Sage group of experts, are urging Johnson that the emergence of the Indian variant means next week’s planned relaxation of measures must be pushed back.
Professor Pagel warned in a series of tweets that the test for Johnson’s roadmap for England to come out of lockdown has not been met.
The Sage scientist has warned that if Johnson continues to go ahead with the planned easing on Monday, then this could “add fuel to the fire.”
She further warned the Indian variant’s spread and risks “more uncertainty, more damaging closures and longer recovery from a worse situation.”
According to new data there are now 78 areas across the UK which have been identified as fresh hotspots, but infections have fallen in most areas of the country.
Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown is due to proceed, but with many new hotspots cropping up across the UK, a Minister has said local lockdowns cannot be ruled out