- The dramatic rise in UK cases of a variant first discovered in India could undermine the country’s roadmap for reopening, scientists are cautioning.
- The variant, called B.1.617.2, is one of three closely related variants that were initially detected in India.
- Public Health England designated it a “variant of concern” on Friday, acknowledging it appears to be at least as transmissible as the dominant so-called Kent variant in the UK.
- It is unclear if and to what extent B.1.617.2 can reduce vaccine effectiveness.
A recent news article published in The Guardian reveals that hike UK cases of a variant from India may be roadblock for reopening.
University College of London
Prof Christina Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at University College London and a member of the Independent Sage group of experts, speaking in a personal capacity said the rise in B.1.617.2 cases was concerning enough to delay the next stage of the roadmap scheduled for Monday, when a range of restrictions are to be lifted.
Covid 19 Genomics UK consortium database
According to the Covid-19 genomics UK consortium database – which may include duplicates and does not record whether sequences of the variants are linked to travel – for sequences up to 7 May.
There have so far been 1,393 instances of B.1.617.2, making it the second most common variant in the UK.
The vaccine may be ineffective
We know that the vaccine is very effective against the B.1.1.7 [Kent] strain.
But we also know that the vaccine is less effective at protecting against the variant originating in South Africa.
For the variants arising in India … we have no real-world data and relatively little laboratory data to assess whether it is likely to evade immunity.
What does the data suggest?
Early data suggested there might be a slight decrease in the effectiveness of vaccines against B.1.617.2.
But not as much as against the variant discovered in South Africa, said Deborah Dunn-Walters, professor of immunology at the University of Surrey and chair of the British Society for Immunology’s Covid-19 and immunology taskforce, adding that she was feeling very cautious.
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Source: The Guardian