Indian variant could cause 'significant disruption' to the road map out of lockdown
The Indian variant could make it “more difficult” for England to move to step four of the Government’s road map out of lockdown in June, Boris Johnson said.
He said second doses of coronavirus vaccines will be accelerated for the over-50s and the clinically vulnerable across the country to be given eight weeks after the first dose amid a rise in cases of the Indian variant.
He also warned that the Indian coronavirus variant could “pose a serious disruption” to plans to ease restrictions and “could make it more difficult” to end them as hoped in June.
He added that if the Indian variant proves to be “significantly more transmissible” than other strains “we’re likely to face some hard choices”.
The Prime Minister told the Downing Street press conference: “I do not believe that we need, on the present evidence, to delay our road map and we will proceed with our plan to move to step three in England from Monday.
“But I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move to step four in June.”
The Government said a further 17 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the UK total to 127,668.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 152,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The Government also said that, as of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 2,193 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.
It brings the total to 4,446,824.
The Prime Minister told the Downing Street press conference: “I believe we should trust in our vaccines to protect the public whilst monitoring the situation as it develops very closely because the race between our vaccination programme and the virus may be about to become a great deal tighter and it’s more important than ever therefore that people get the protection of a second dose.
“So following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation we will accelerate remaining second doses to the over-50s and those clinically vulnerable right across the country so those doses come just eight weeks after the first dose.”
Boris Johnson added: “We will also prioritise first doses for anyone eligible who has not yet come forward including the over 40s.”
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