Any more communicable variant could see such an increase in hospital admissions, which would overwhelm the NHS even with the rollout of vaccination.
In minutes released Friday evening, government scientists say the new Indian variant could be 50% more infectious than the Kent strain that swept the UK over Christmas.
If so, the Indian variant could result in 1,000 deaths per day and 10,000 daily hospitalizations by the summer.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty admitted last night that it is “highly likely that the strain is more transmissible”.
He warned that if it was proven that the UK could see “a really significant surge” in Covid-19 cases.
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Scientists advising the SAGE emergency committee this month say if the lockdown is fully lifted after June 21 and the Indian variant is 50% more transmissible, it could trigger up to 20,000 hospitalizations per day at worst. cases.
The SPI-M subgroup said they were sure the mutant strain B.1.617.2 was more infectious and could spread up to 50% more easily.
And a modeling team from the University of Warwick said if the Indian strain was 40% more transmissible, the next wave could see 6,000 people admitted to hospital per day – which is less than the second wave.
However, figures from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine suggest that a 50% higher transmission rate could lead to 4,000 per day.
But their figures also predict that the variant could lead to 1,000 deaths per day by fall, which is roughly the peak of last spring.
But ministers and experts insisted that there is no evidence that the vaccines are less effective against the Indian strain or other mutant variants.
Boris Johnson on Friday said the government would continue with restoration and restoration projects indoors from Monday as part of the country’s roadmap thanks to the number of blows distributed.
During the Downing Street briefing, the Prime Minister said: ‘I don’t think we need, based on the current evidence, to delay our roadmap and we will continue with our plan to take the third step in England from Monday.
“But I have to say with you that this new variant could seriously disrupt our progress and make it more difficult to move to the fourth stage in June. “
Professor Whitty said the variant was’ quite widespread in a number of parts of England and could overtake the Kent variety to become dominant in the UK.
He warned that the UK could see ‘a really significant surge’ in Covid-19 cases if it turns out to be much more communicable, adding: ‘This is a really critical issue that we have yet to the answer. “
Mr Johnson said second doses – which provide people with maximum protection against Covid-19 – will be postponed for those over 50 and clinically vulnerable from the planned 12-week to eight-week interval.
The prime minister said the military will be deployed to areas in the northwest that have suffered some of the highest rates of the Indian variant, and will distribute tests to aid surge testing efforts.
Surge tests are underway in several locations in England, including areas of Bolton, Blackburn, Sefton and London.
Mr Johnson also urged people to “think very carefully” about the risk to their loved ones, “especially if they have not received that second dose or if it has not yet had time to take full effect.”
Experts said the government should rethink and possibly delay the easing of lockdown restrictions on June 21.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said ‘vital’ financial support was offered if the fourth stage of the roadmap was disrupted by a surge in the Indian variant of the coronavirus.