United Kingdom health chief: Indian strain 'around 40%' more infectious than British variant

Darnell Taylor
June 7, 2021

The senior Government minister also implied that social distancing could continue beyond the final stage of the Prime Minister's road map.

The senior Cabinet minister said the spread of the Delta variant, behind a recent rise in coronavirus infections in the country, had made the unlocking plans set for June 21 more hard. Only the headline has been changed.

"That means that it is more hard to manage this virus with the new Delta variant", Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News, referring to the Indian strain by its formal designation.

Meanwhile, there were 203,613 first vaccine doses administered on Saturday, taking the total to 40,333,231, and 473,378 more second jabs were given, taking that total to 27,661,353.

The Delta variant of COVID-19, or the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India, is around 40 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha or so-called Kent variant of concern (VOC), UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday. Independent SAGE, a group of British scientists focused on providing guidance to the government, issued an "emergency statement" last week said stalling the existing plans to lift the last restrictions could help "avoid another full lockdown".

The Health Secretary, with a decision on lockdown easing due in the next week, said he "wouldn't rule out" measures such as wearing face coverings in public settings and working from home where possible continuing in the long term.

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"We'll look at the data for another week and then make a judgement", he told the BBC on Sunday, stressing that the government was "absolutely open" to delaying the lifting of restrictions.

Mr Hancock said he expected "around three fifths" of all adults to have been fully-vaccinated by June 21, with 52% now double-jabbed, as indicators suggest vaccines are helping to cut the link between case rises and an increase in hospital admissions.

Former prime minister and Labour leader Tony Blair has argued that those who have been given both shots should be afforded extra freedoms as an incentive for people to take up the inoculation offer.

Vaccination can help stop the spread of coronavirus as well as protect people from getting sick.

25 to 29 year olds in Wakefield are to be invited to book their vaccines for the first time, meaning that as many as 22,400 more people in Wakefield, Pontefract and Castleford will be able to book their first dose of the vaccine.

The UK recorded a further 6,238 coronavirus cases on Friday as England's R number, or the rate of infection, began to rise again, largely attributed to the Delta variant.

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