Boris Johnson holding conference over India variant amid fears of roadmap delay

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Boris Johnson will hold a Downing Street conference to address concerns about the Indian Covid variant.

The Prime Minister is set to address the nation at 5pm, and will be accompanied by England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.

There have been 1,313 cases of the mutation recorded in the UK, up from 520 the previous week.

Four people have died in the UK with the Indian variant, according to Government data.

The deaths took place between May 5 and May 12.

Officials now considering prioritising second vaccine doses in the areas worst affected.

Government minister James Cleverly has already warned that the end oflockdowncouldbe delayed beyond June 21 in a bid to contain it.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies [Sage] also held an urgent meetingto discuss its spread on Thursday, May 13.

Professor James Naismith, from the University of Oxford, believes cases will be picked up across the UK.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think we should view it as a country-wide problem.

“It will get everywhere. We keep learning this lesson, but we know that this will be the case.”

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The majority of new cases have been concentrated in the north west of England, mainly in Bolton, Sefton in Merseyside, and Blackburn in Lancashire.

Professor Tom Wenseleers, a biologist and biostatistician from KU Leuven University in Belgium, analysed the strain and compared it to the other mutation which led to skyrocketing infection rates in Kent.

He tweeted: “The Indian data estimates that B.1.617.2 has a 10% per day growth (advantage) over B.1.1.7 (translates to a ~60% transmission advantage).”

However, the number of people with coronavirus in the UK has still continued to decrease.

The Department of Health also insists there is "no firm evidence yet to show this variant has any greater impact on severity of disease or evades the vaccine".

As it stands, the Government is set to end all limits on social contact on June 21.

  • Boris Johnson
  • Coronavirus

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