The UK reported on Thursday the biggest daily increase of Covid-19 cases since April 27.
A total of 11 new deaths from Covid-19 within 28 days of a positive test were recorded on Thursday and a further 2,657 cases of infection, up from 2,284 new cases the day before.
Government data showed that 184,210 people had received a first dose of a vaccine against Covid-19, taking the total number of people who had received at least one dose to 35.907 million, equivalent to 68.2 per cent of the adult population.
Indian variant is 60pc more transmissible
Meanwhile, Independent Sage, a group of scientists who provide independent scientific advice, says cases of B.1.617.2 have increased substantially more rapidly than other variants since the first case was detected and have trebled in the past week with especially high rates in Bolton, Blackburn, Darwen, Bedford and Sefton where it is the dominant variant.
It warns that there is evidence that the B.1.617.2 (known as Indian) variant is up to 60 per cent more transmissible than B.1.1.7 and may have some degree of vaccine resistance.
Independent Sage has urged the government to take immediate action given that one of the four tests for proceeding with the ‘roadmap’ out of Covid restrictions is that “the assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern”.
Considering the latest evidence, the group of scientists proposes a six-point plan of action to deal with the B.1.617.2 variant and to be prepared for future variants:
- global and local vaccination supported by a waiver a patent rights;
- improved border controls and supported quarantine;
- improved local systems of outbreak control;
- surge vaccination in areas experiencing outbreaks of the new variant;
- limited indoor mixing particularly in areas with proven high levels of the new variant;
- continued vigilance as the latest data relating to vaccine escape and transmissibility is considered.
Commenting on developments around the Indian variant of Covid-19, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “With growing concern around the spread of the Indian variant of Covid-19, the government must be guided by the data.
“If there is any indication that the spread is no longer sufficiently under control, it must be prepared to adjust the timetable for easing lockdown, however unpopular that decision may be. There is also the real risk that the virus could mutate further if allowed to spread unchecked.”