The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is expected to hold an emergency meeting today to discuss the worrying Indian variant and Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.
The Prime Minister said the UK was increasingly concerned about the variant first identified in India – and warned that new variants “posed a potentially life-threatening danger”.
Asked about the Indian variant and the possibility of delaying the June 21 unlock, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Sky News: “SAGE scientists will do their assessments, they will report to the government and we will make decisions on the database and the evidence they provide.
“The Prime Minister and the Secretary of Health have always been clear that the easing of restrictions that will allow us to return to normal will happen at a safe pace and in a safe manner. We will always be data driven. “
The European Medicines Agency said on Wednesday it was “fairly confident” that the vaccines currently in use are effective against the Indian variant – a view echoed by some British scientists.
According to data from the last cycle of the React-1 study, the prevalence of COVID-19[feminine[feminineinfections fell 50% between March and early May – indicating the successful rollout of the vaccine despite the easing of the lockdown.
Between the last round that looked at data from March and the current round that looked at data from April through early May, swab positivity fell 50% in England, from 0.20% to 0, 10%. Experts estimate that the corresponding R number is 0.90.
Data includes 127408 coronavirus swab tests carried out across England between April 15 and May 3.
The researchers found that there was a decline in all age groups except 25 to 34 year olds, with a “significant” decline in 55 to 64 year olds.
Professor Paul Elliott, director of the React program, said at a press briefing: “This coincides with the rollout of the vaccination program to the youngest in this age group. “
The data also suggests a higher prevalence within the Asian community.
Researchers say the discrepancy between the pattern of infections and a pattern of hospital admissions and deaths suggests that the deployment of mass vaccination is preventing serious outcomes.
Asked whether the data supported moving to the next step of easing lockdown restrictions, Prof Elliott said: ‘This is a difficult question as we have low levels of prevalence in the community, and we have low levels of hospital illness and death. , so it’s good.
“But I think the Indian variant models are of concern. “
He added that more studies are needed to truly understand the characteristics and spread of the Indian variant which appears to be at least as transmissible as the Kent variant.
Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London, said: “What you can see lately – basically since the widespread deployment of the vaccine – and we showed this last time, that you are seeing a decoupling of the relationship between reacting infection and a delayed number of deaths.
“And this gap shows how we can have more infections in the population with a lot less deaths.
“And we’re actually seeing that this difference is actually growing well now for hospitalizations as well, so for every infection in the community, we’re producing fewer hospitalizations and a lot less deaths.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “Today’s results demonstrate the impact of our incredible vaccination rollout on COVID-19 infection rates across the country, with prevalence being the highest. low among the most vulnerable aged 65 and over. “
Meanwhile, preliminary vaccine mixing data revealed an increased frequency of mild to moderate symptoms in those who received different injections for the first and second dose.
The Com-Cov study was launched in February to study the alternating doses of the Oxford / AstraZeneca and Pfizer Covid-19 injections, with one or the other given as the first dose and then the other as the second.
The reactions included symptoms such as chills, fatigue, headache and a feeling of fever, and were short-lived, according to a peer-reviewed letter that was printed in The Lancet.
There were no other security concerns, the researchers found.