B1.617.2 variant: UK PM says won’t deviate from lockdown plans

London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is nothing conclusive yet that indicates that the B1.617.2 variant of COVID-19 would force Britain to deviate from its roadmap to lift lockdown restrictions fully next month.

He said that the experts continue to monitor the data on the variant, which was first identified in India.

“We are looking at the epidemiology the whole time as it comes in and, at the moment, partly because we have built up such a wall of defenses with the vaccination program, I don’t see anything conclusive at the moment to say that we need to deviate from the roadmap,” he said, in reference to the government’s scheduled June 21 timeline for a complete lifting of lockdown restrictions.”

“But we’ve got to be cautious and we are keeping everything under very close observation. We’ll know a lot more in a few days” time,” the prime minister said.

PM Johnson used a visit to a vaccination centre in London to reiterate a message for the British public to continue to come forward for their vaccination when they are invited by the National Health Service (NHS) in order to protect against all variants of COVID-19.

“The numbers (vaccinations) are incredibly high. And I know that… some people have been more vaccine-hesitant than others, but actually, across the whole of society, the numbers continue to go up in every group. And that’s very, very encouraging. And I would urge everybody – just to make the obvious point – who is eligible for a vaccine, when you get your call up, when you get the notification from the NHS, come and get your jab,” he said.

“We do not yet know to what extent it is more transmissible. While we do not have a complete picture of the impact of the vaccine, the early laboratory data from Oxford University corroborates the provisional evidence from the Royal Bolton Hospital and the initial observational data from India that vaccines are effective against the variant. This, of course, is reassuring, but the higher transmission poses a real risk,” he added.

According to the latest data, more than 36.7 million people have had their first vaccine dose in the UK and more than 20.2 million have had their second. The NHS bookings for vaccination are now open to all those aged 36 and over.

Image courtesy of (Wikimedia)

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