‘We are worried about the Indian variant,’ says health secretary Matt Hancock
Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves Downing street after the daily Covid-19 briefing in central London on May 27, 2020. (Photo: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)
By Pooja Shrivastava
As the UK prepares for lockdown ease starting May 17, concerns are raised on the Indian variant of Covid-19. Speaking on Times Radio, health secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday (11) that Britain is keeping a close eye on the Indian variant though measures such as enhanced tracking and tracing, travel restrictions, and the roll-out of the vaccine should be able to keep this strain under control in the country.
“We are worried about the Indian variant,” the Health Secretary told Times Radio. “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.”
Hancock also said that the Indian variant of Covid-19 is more 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,” he said.
However, the vaccine appears to hold the key against the Indian strain too. As per the health secretary, there is no evidence yet that the vaccine does not work against it the same way that the vaccine works very effectively against the Kent variant.
Later speaking to BBC Breakfast, Hancock said that the Indian variant is the biggest Covid-19 risk currently facing the UK. However, given the scale of the vaccination program, the country is in a far better position to deal with it.
Hancock’s statement comes at a time when WHO has classified the Indian variant as “of global concern.” Scientists say B.1.617.2 appears to be spreading more quickly than two other identified subtypes of the Indian variant.
Meanwhile, Britain is set to enter the next phase of lockdown ease on May 17. As per the announcement, people in England will be able to meet indoors in households, pubs, restaurants, and cinemas from next week. However, social-distancing rules will remain in place for shops, pubs, restaurants, and offices.