At the current rate of transmission, the Indian variant might become the second most common in the UK, after the Kent strain.
TheIndian variant has been spiralling out of control not only in the subcontinent, but in other countries too. Public Health England (PHE) revealed that the number of cases linked to the Indian variant doubled within a week, going from 182 to a shocking 400. Furthermore, they have recorded three strains of the variant in the UK as well.
Currently, the original Indian strain is still classified as a ‘variant under investigation.’ On Thursday, PHE released a statement easing some worries about the variant. They said:
Identified case numbers remain low and are geographically dispersed in England. Where cases have been identified, additional follow up of cases, testing of contacts and targeted case finding will be used to limit the spread of these variants.
Dr. Susan Hopkins from PHE added:
There is no evidence of widespread community transmission or that these variants cause more severe disease or render the vaccines currently deployed any less effective.
A cause for concern?
However, other scientists are still distressed about the rate at which the variant is spreading through the country, especially given that half of the population has receivedat least one of their jabs. Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, commented:
That we have a new variant that is increasing so rapidly, even during a period when we are still in a pretty strict lockdown and have more than 50% of the UK population with at least one immunisation, is very depressing and suggests that as we come out of lockdown this variant could accelerate even more rapidly
In fact, some believe that the variant is on its way to becoming the second most common in the UK. Professor Christina Pagel, the director of clinical operational research unity at University College London told The Guardian:
The latest data on the B1617 variant is certainly concerning – it is rapidly on its way to becoming the most commonly detected variant other than the dominant ‘Kent’ variant in the space of just a few weeks.
For now, Experts agree that more information is needed mainly on the severity of the variant and its resistance to the vaccine. Dr. Julian Tang, consultant virologist at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, told Sky News that the currentrate of transmission is to be expected, but it shouldn’t be a cause for concern right now. He said:
I don't think we need to be especially worried about this news unless we begin to see evidence of increased severity, or that it can escape the vaccine protection against severe disease and death, which we haven't seen yet.