UK prepares surge vaccinations to tackle Covid variant from India

Caroline Nicolls will receive an injection of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine administered by Sister Amy Nash at Madejski Stadium in Reading, west of London, on April 13, 2021.

STEVE PARSONS | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – UK is preparing to have vaccinations and tests carried out in areas where the new variant of Covid-19, first discovered in India, is spreading.

Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi told BBC TV on Friday that the government would “bend” its vaccination program to target more doses to the hardest hit areas, while second doses could be brought forward.

In a statement late Thursday, the UK Department of Health and Welfare announced that a new surge rapid response team of 100 nurses, health advisors and environmental health officers would be deployed to Bolton, a town on the outskirts of Manchester. where variant B1.617.2 spreads quickly.

“While there is still no clear evidence that this variant has a greater impact on disease severity or evades the vaccine, the rate of growth matters and the government is considering additional measures if deemed necessary, including the best possible Using the vaccine role-out to best protect the most vulnerable in the context of the current epidemiology, “the department said in the statement.

Surge testing, along with improved genome sequencing and contact tracing, is also being rolled out to other areas across the country.

Data on the new variant, released Thursday by Public Health England, showed the number of cases across the UK rose from 520 last week to 1,313 this week, with most cases in the north-west of England and some clusters concentrated in London.

New restrictions cannot be ruled out

The introduction of vaccines in the UK was one of the fastest in the world. Almost 70% of the adult population have received at least one shot to date. Vaccines are currently available to people over the age of 38. However, the government has stated that they could be made available to younger people in multi-generational households.

The next phase of England’s exit from the lockdown is slated for Monday, when the conviviality, hospitality and indoor entertainment will resume.

However, Health and Welfare Secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement Thursday that the government is “monitoring the situation very carefully and does not hesitate to take further action if necessary”.

With the special unit in Bolton, surge tests have already been carried out in 15 areas across England, with more than 800,000 tests distributed.

“As outlined in the roadmap, we cannot rule out the possibility that economic and social restrictions will be reimposed at local or regional level if there is evidence that they are necessary to contain or suppress a variant that escapes the vaccine”, said the DHSC.

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