People should be 'concerned but not panicking' about spread of Indian covid variant, says expert

People should be "concerned but not panicking" when it comes to the spread of the Covid-19 variant first identified in India, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said.

Sunday, 16th May 2021, 9:53 am
Updated Sunday, 16th May 2021, 10:08 am
People queue for the vaccination centre at the Essa Academy in Bolton. The Indian coronavirus variant has been detected in a number of areas in England, including Bolton, which are reporting the highest rates of infection, data suggests. Picture date: Friday May 14, 2021.
People queue for the vaccination centre at the Essa Academy in Bolton. The Indian coronavirus variant has been detected in a number of areas in England, including Bolton, which are reporting the highest rates of infection, data suggests. Picture date: Friday May 14, 2021.

People should be "concerned but not panicking" when it comes to the spread of the Covid-19 variant first identified in India, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said.

Professor John Edmunds said while the variant is a "new threat", the UK is in a much better position compared to before Christmas when the Kent variant was detected.

Speaking on BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Professor Edmunds said: "I think we should be concerned but not panicking. We're in a much, much better place now than we were when the Kent variant first hit us back in November, December."

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He added: "Now the hospitals are empty, thankfully, or virtually empty of Covid patients and two-thirds of the adult population have been vaccinated.

"So we are in a much better position now to cope with this new threat - and it is a new threat - but we're not in the same position as we were back in December."

He told Sky News “we do not rule that out” when asked about the prospect of specific areas having different restrictions compared to the rest of the country to deal with the risk posed by Covid-19 variants.

Matt Hancock also left the door open on reversing the easing of restrictions if the Indian variant proves to be very highly transmissible, but said he ‘very much hoped not’.

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