Indian variant: Where in the UK has the new coronavirus strain been … Thu, 13 May 2021 09:00:00 +0100-There are concerns the variant may be more transmissible and infectious than the UK variant.
And we'll keep you signed in.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the government “is worried about the rise of the Indian variant” and “are watching it very, very carefully”.
Speaking on a visit to a vaccination centre at the Central Mosque of Brent, north-west London, Hancock says the government is “putting in enhanced contact tracing so that people who test positive for this variant get extra support to make sure that we slow the spread as much as possible”.
When asked if regional lockdowns could happen, he says: “We rule nothing out. We’ve all seen last year what might be necessary.
“At the moment our goal is to tackle this through making sure everybody who tests positive gets that enhanced contact tracing and of course the vaccine programme is giving a high level of protection right across the board.”
At a Covid vaccine appointment, you will probably be warned of possible side effects – fever, headache, a sore arm for a day or two afterwards. Changes to the menstrual cycle will not appear on the list.
But women online around the world have started asking if early, heavy or painful periods might be an unlisted reaction to the jab.
We don’t yet know whether the vaccine is causing these changes – it hasn’t been studied. It’s possible women post-vaccination were more likely to notice or attribute changes, particularly after hearing about others’ experiences.
But Dr Victoria Male, a reproductive immunologist at Imperial College London, says some post-menopausal women, and people taking hormones that stop their periods, have reported bleeding. So she’s inclined to suspect there may be a physical reaction occurring.
And, though the link is unproven, there are logical reasons the vaccine could be causing changes to periods – but these changes are not anything to worry about, reproductive specialists say. While painful or unexpected periods can be distressing, they’re not a sign of any long-term harm.
The Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City will take place in Portugal with 6,000 fans from each club permitted to attend.
The game on 29 May has been moved from Turkey to the Portuguese city of Porto because of coronavirus restrictions.
Portugal is on England’s green list so players and fans can attend without having to quarantine on their return home. Turkey is on the red list, meaning arrivals to the UK have quarantine for 10 days in a hotel.
It is the second successive year the final has been held in Portugal.
There has been an increase in the number of cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus in Northern Ireland.
BBC News NI has been told there are now at least 12 cases of the variant first identified in India.
Last week, the authorities confirmed seven people had tested positive.
It is unclear whether the additional cases are linked and the Public Health Agency would not confirm where they were found or how many were linked to travel.
While there has been a small increase in the overall number of positive Covid-19 cases in NI, it is understood health officials at this stage are not overly concerned.
Elsewhere in the UK, the number of cases of the Indian variant is rising at worrying rates including in Bolton, north-west England.
The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in England has fallen to the lowest level since the beginning of September.
A total of 14,313 people tested positive for the virus at least once in the week to 5 May, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.
This is down 9% on the previous week and the lowest number since the week to 2 September 2020.
An indicative date of 21 June has been proposed for theatres in Northern Ireland to reopen, BBC News NI has been told.
It is not clear if the move will be discussed when ministers meet later to review lockdown restrictions.
Theatres have effectively been closed since the pandemic began last March.
Hugging of loved ones and the resumption of international travel are also expected to be discussed by ministers.
A rise in coronavirus cases in Glasgow may involve the Indian variant, a public health expert says.
Prof Linda Bauld, from Edinburgh University, says the B16172 variant, first identified in India, “may be some of the cases” in the south side of the city, where there has been a “big rise”.
She tells BBC Radio Scotland the Indian variant may be more transmissible than the variant first identified in Kent, which is now dominant in the UK.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the situation in Glasgow is being monitored “very closely” amid concern about the Indian variant.
It comes as most of Scotland is due to move down to level two Covid restrictions on Monday, allowing up to six people from no more than three households to socialise indoors.
The case rate in Glasgow is currently above the threshold for moving to level two – but so far ministers have said only Moray will remain in level three.
British Airways has announced it will be the world’s first airline to trial a coronavirus test which produces results within 25 seconds.
The pilot scheme will see flight and cabin crew taking a Pelican Covid-19 antigen test from medical tech company Canary Global.
Results will be compared against their standard test results.
British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle described the test as a “gamechanger” and said the airline would explore what role it could play in customer testing after the trial with flight and cabin crew.
“As we start to see the opening up of travel we remain committed to exploring easy and affordable testing solutions to help our customers travel again, whether it’s for business, to reunite with family and friends or take a much-needed break abroad,” he said.
Three weeks after he had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, a science journalist in Delhi developed high fever, a sore throat and a general feeling of discomfort.
On 22 April, Pallava Bagla tested positive for the coronavirus. Four days later, a chest scan showed his clear lungs turning white, a sign of infection.
As the fever persisted, he was admitted to hospital – eight days after his first symptoms.
Before he left the hospital after eight days, doctors showed him a scan of the lungs of an unvaccinated, diabetic, male Covid-19 patient of his age, and compared it to his scan.
“The difference was clear. The doctors told me that if I had not taken the vaccine I would have probably landed up on the ventilator in critical care. Timely and full vaccination saved my life,” Mr Bagla says.
Although India has fully vaccinated a paltry 3% of its 1.3 billion people, breakthrough cases – people contracting the infections two weeks after being fully vaccinated – appear to be rising.
Scientists are now grappling with the question of whether existing vaccine protect people enough from newer, often more transmissible variants of coronavirus.
Covid: Indian variant being carefully monitored amid UK rise – BBC … Thu, 13 May 2021 09:00:00 +0100-Fears of delay to next stage of restriction easing as cases triple in a week.
The new variant of Covid-19 first identified in India is being closely monitored in the UK and is of “increasing concern”, prime minister Boris Johnson has said, as fears grow that its unchecked spread could delay the final easing of lockdown restrictions on 21 June.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is set to meet on Thursday to discuss the highly transmissible variant after UK cases tripled in a week from 520 to more than 1,700.
That comes after Mr Johnson warned that a further coronavirus surge is likely this winter, warning of “even greater suffering” as he announced that an independent public inquiry into his administration’s handling of the pandemic would commence next spring.
Where has the Indian variant before found?
Infections appear to be particularly prevalent in the north west of England in areas like Bolton, Greater Manchester and Blackburn. Andy Burnham, the mayor for Greater Manchester, has said the Joint Committee for Vaccines and Immunisations (JCVI) is considering a request to vaccinate all over-16s in Bolton to thwart the rising infection rate.
The variant has also been detected in Newcastle and Tynemouth on Tyneside, as well as in parts of London and in Scotland.
Leaked Public Health England documents seen by The Guardian indicated a further 48 clusters of the Indian variant have been identified, with some linked to secondary schools, care homes and religious gatherings.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, James Naismith of Oxford University said on Monday: “I think we should view it as a country-wide problem. It will get everywhere. We keep learning this lesson, but we know that this will be the case.
He added that local restrictions would not contain the variant’s spread. “When we tried locally having different restrictions in different regions that didn’t really make any difference. So I don’t think thinking about a localised strategy for containment will really work.”
How many UK cases have there been so far?
Figures due out shortly are expected to confirm a total of 1,723 cases of B1617.2, one of three mutations fuelling the spiralling death toll in India, currently the world epicentre of the crisis.
All three have been designated as “under investigation” by health officials.
Why is it such a cause for concern?
The Indian coronavirus variant is considered to have concerning epidemiological, immunological or pathogenic properties.
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the variant features two “escape mutations” – E484Q and L452R – that “are causing people to be concerned”.
“There’s laboratory evidence that both of these are escape mutations,” he told the PA news agency.
“Basically, applying what we know about other human coronaviruses would suggest that this is going to be even less controlled by vaccine. But we don’t know that for certain at the moment.”
This variant, along with others like the Brazilian, South African and Kent strains, has demonstrated the way in which Sars-CoV-2 can adapt to a human host when placed under selective pressures.
Their unique mutations are specific to the three-dimensional spikes that coat the shell of the virus. “If you think of a lock and key mechanism, the spike protein is the key and then the lock is the receptor on a human cell,” said Professor Deenan Pillay, a virologist at University College London.
Through evolution, this structure has changed shape to make it easier for the virus to bind with and penetrate our cells, as seen with the UK variant.
Some Covid variants, including the Indian one, have mutated to become less recognisable to neutralising human antibodies that would normally attach to the virus’s spike protein and block its entry.
This type of mutation therefore allows Sars-CoV-2 to slip past the first line of immunological defence in people who have been vaccinated or previously infected, enabling the virus to carry on circulating.
– May 13, 2021
Indian variant UK Covid Indian variant being carefully monitored amid UK rise BBC