Chris Whitty says there is concern about the “highly communicable” Indian variant of the coronavirus in the UK.
Despite today’s announcement of plans to ease the lockdown starting next Monday, May 17, UK chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said officials were closely monitoring Indian Covid variant 617.2, which he described as “highly transmissible”.
He told the recent Downing Street press conference that he was concerned about an increase in the prevalence of the Indian variant from very low levels.
However, at this point, he said the first signs were that the vaccination was not going to escape as effectively as it did with some other variants.
He told the Downing Street press conference, “Most of them are relatively stable right now and are not gaining much weight. The variant described from India is slightly worrying with regard to the increase in the proportion.
“That seems to be increasing, but from a very low level in the past two weeks.”
He also said that the conference incidence of the variant “has risen sharply” and that “there is reason to be very careful about this”.
He said that in our favor, India was on the red list of countries, meaning that entry from there into our nation would be significantly reduced.
But he warned that things could change very quickly.
He said, “What we know about the virus is that things can come out of the blue. That happened with B117. That happened in India with this variant.”
He said it was too early to definitively say how the variant might play out here, but said that there was early evidence that it would not evade vaccination as effectively as the South African variant.