CASES of the Indian Covid variant have soared by 150 per cent in a week as 48 clusters have been detected in the UK.
Health experts in England warned that one version of the Indian variant should be made a “variant of concern” as leaked emails show the risk from it is “high”.
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Leaked data and emails shows that the clusters of the Indian variant have popped up across the UK[/caption]
It is thought that around 500 cases of the B.1.617.2 variant have been detected across England with the highest levels in London and the North West.
The further detection of cases could mean that surge testing is rolled out for the Indian variant but the Department of Health has not yet announced any plans.
At present all three of the Indian variants in the UK (B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3 have been dubbed as “under investigation”.
Last week data from Public Health England (PHE) showed that there were just 202 officially recorded cases and experts fear that the strain could spread faster than the two other sub types of the Indian variant that have also been identified in the UK.
Data seen by the BBC states that scientists believe the variant is as transmissible as the variant detected in Kent last year which caused England to be plunged into a third coronavirus lockdown.
Sources did however state that there is no reason to believe the variant is resistant to any of the vaccines currently being rolled out.
It’s not yet known how many cases of the variant can be linked back to international travel.
The Indian variants have a number of mutations that make them different to the original coronavirus strain.
Emails seen by The Guardian shows that clusters of B.1.617.2 have been found and that the risk has been deemed as “high”.
Experts however delayed releasing the information due to the local elections.
PHE said the delay had been a processing issue and the variant could be upgraded to “variant of concern” at some point today.
The documents state that there are 48 clusters that have been linked to secondary schools and religious gatherings.
In London, it revealed that some had been identified in care homes.
In one care home, 15 cases of B.1.617.2 of the variant had been detected and four cases have been hospitalised with non-severe illness – no deaths have been reported.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain today Dr Amir Khan explained why it was likely that the Indian variant would be dubbed as “one of concern”.
“It was first identified in the UK right back in October, it’s been a variant of interest.
“There are three sub types, the one we are most concerned about is the B.1.617.2 sub type which has been responsible for these 48 clusters around England, there have also been cases in Northern Ireland and Wales.
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“There was an outbreak in a nursing home in London where 14 residents who had both doses of the vaccine got infected with the Indian variant, all have made a full recovery.”
He added that it’s all about community transmission.
Dr Amir said: “We are seeing a surge of cases in India itself, on the background there where they have the UK variant, we are now seeing a surge in this Indian variant, so it may well be more transmissible.
“There is some evidence that it can evade the immune response triggered by the vaccine, so it’s a real concern and something we really need to get on top of.”