Health Secretary “confident” jab works against Covid-19 Indian variant

Health Secretary “confident” jab works against Covid-19 Indian variant

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has said that the UK has “increasing confidence” that the Covid-19 vaccines work against the Indian variant of the virus.

This comes after cases of the variant – which scientists believe is more transmissible – nearly tripled to 1,313 in the past week alone in England.

Despite this, Matt Hancock has said that early lab data shows the vaccines remain effective.

He said that most of the people in hospital in Bolton, a “hotspot” for the Indian variant, are unvaccinated, and that the strain was “relatively widespread in small numbers” in most of the country.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hancock said that it was “quite likely” that the variant would become the dominant strain in the UK.

He said: “What that reinforces is the importance of people coming forward for testing and being careful because this isn’t over yet.

“But the good news is because we have increasing confidence that the vaccine works against the variant, the strategy is on track – it’s just the virus has gained a bit of pace and we’ve therefore all got to be that bit more careful and cautious.”

Mr Hancock also defended the easing of lockdown restrictions in England from tomorrow, 17 May, saying the government’s strategy was to “replace the restrictions with vaccination” as the primary way of tackling the virus.

However, Professor Adam Finn of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told the BBC that even though rules are being eased in most parts of the UK from tomorrow, people should still remain “very cautious about mixing”.

On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also warned that the Indian variant of Covid-19 could cause “serious disruption” to the last stage of lockdown easing on 21 June.

A decision on whether all legal restrictions could be ended next month would be made on 14 June, Mr Hancock said.

He also confirmed over-35s in England would be able to book an appointment for their Covid-19 jabs in the coming week.

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