A leading coronavirus adviser has warned that the government needs to “act hard and act fast” if the Indian variant turns out to evade vaccines.
Referring to the dire infection numbers in India, which caused a record 4,205 confirmed deaths on Wednesday, he added: “Unless we want to turn into another India.”
There are three variants in the UK that have been identified in India, but scientists are most concerned about B.1.617.2.
According to the last Public Health England update on variants from Thursday, detected cases of B.1.617.2 more than doubled to 520 last week.
There is currently no solid data about the impact the variant may have on vaccines, though England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty said on Monday: “At this point in time our view is it is less likely to be able to escape vaccination than some of the other variants, particularly the South African one.”