There is increasing confidence that the vaccines currently being administered in the UK to protect against COVID-19 are effective against all variants of the deadly virus, including the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in report by PTI .
During his weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons, Johnson said fresh data on the B1.617.2 variant had been reviewed earlier and welcomed the record numbers of people from regions feared as hotspots for the highly transmissible strain for coming forward for their jabs.
“We’ve looked at the data again this morning and I can tell the House we have increasing confidence that vaccines are effective against all variants, including the Indian variant,” Johnson told the members of Parliament.
Further elaborating, Johnson urged people to move to the next stage of considerable easing of lockdown restrictions that allows greater indoor interactions with a “heavy dose of caution”, as the UK continues to monitor rapidly rising cases of the B1.617.2 variant of COVID-19 first identified in India.
In what is step three of a four-step roadmap set by Johnson for easing the legally-binding lockdown restrictions, the hospitality sector including pubs, restaurants and cinemas and most businesses can resume close to normal service in England, Wales and most of Scotland.
However, surge testing and an accelerated vaccination programme is being implemented as the threat from the variant first found in India looms over the reopening, with UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock warning over the weekend that the B1.617.2 variant of concern (VOC) seems to “spread like wildfire” among those who have not been vaccinated.
“Together we have reached another milestone in our road map out of lockdown, but we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution,” said Boris Johnson.
“Everyone must play their part by getting tested twice a week, coming forward for your vaccine when called, and remembering hands, face, space and fresh air. I urge everyone to be cautious and take responsibility when enjoying new freedoms today in order to keep the virus at bay,” he said.
The latest easing of lockdown, described by scientists as a very finely balanced political decision amid low overall coronavirus infection rates but the doubling of the case numbers of the B1.617.2 VOC to over 1,300 in a week, comes as the National Health Service (NHS) hit another milestone in the vaccination programme.