Matt Hancock announcement: Health Secretary to issue urgent update on India Covid strain | Politics | News

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A variant of Covid-19 first identified in India has been imported to Britain.

Scientists are currently investigating the strain to determine if it is a “variant of concern”.

Cases of coronavirus have skyrocketed in India in recent weeks, with 273,810 new infections registered on Monday. A record 1,619 new deaths were also recorded.

There are fears the India mutation risks derailing Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown, with the variant appearing to have evolved to avoid antibodies.

It means even those who have been given a vaccine against coronavirus could be vulnerable to the strain.

The Health Secretary will update MPs at 3.30pm.

Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, this morning warned vulnerable people could be “caught out” by the new strain.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I am concerned about all the variants. Don’t get me wrong, I think our road map is going well and at the moment, in this country, we are doing rather well, enjoying unlocking.

“But out there, there is the Indian variant, the South African, Brazilian etc, and they do pose a threat.”

He added: “At the moment, we are still vulnerable, and some people in our population are still vulnerable – what I mean by that is the Indian variant, for example, certainly has a mutation like the ones that evade the best neutralising antibodies.

“What that means is, if you have a population where at least half of us have had zero or one dose of vaccine, some won’t have made a very good response to the vaccine, because perhaps they are very old or obese or unwell, we still have a very large vulnerable population who can still be caught out by variants like this.

“At the moment, this particular variant is called a variant under investigation, not a variant of concern because it hasn’t been escalated to that level yet.

“My assumption from everything I’ve seen is that it will become a variant of concern.”

More to follow…

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