The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has warned that there are now 86 hotspot areas across the UK which have the more transmissible Indian variant.
Hancock told MPs that there is 2,323 known cases with 483 confirmed in Bolton, Blackburn and Darwen which the Indian variant is now the dominant strain.
19 people are in hospital in Bolton with eight in Blackburn and “the majority of whom are eligible for a vaccine but haven’t yet had a vaccine.”
He said this “shows the new variant is not tending to penetrate into older, vaccinated groups and it underlines again the importance of getting the jab especially – but not only – amongst the vulnerable age groups.”
Hancock added, “While we also don’t have the complete picture on the impact of the vaccine, the early laboratory data from Oxford University corroborates the evidence from Bolton Hospital and the initial observational data from India that vaccines are effective against this variant.”
He warned that the Indian variant is more transmissible than the Kent strain which led to last years second lockdown, and warned this “poses a real risk.”
Hancock said, “To anyone who feels hesitant, not just in Bolton or Blackburn, but to anyone who feels hesitant about getting the vaccine right across the country, just look at what is happening in Bolton Hospital where the majority of people in hospital with coronavirus were eligible for the jab but have chosen not yet to have the jab and have ended up in hospital, some of them in intensive care.
“Vaccines save lives, they protect you, they protect your loved ones and they will help us all get out of this pandemic.”