Britain has said it is not sure if the current COVID-19 vaccines which it is using are effective against the new coronavirus variant found in India.
A new double mutant variant of the novel coronavirus has been found in India, classified as ‘B.1.617’ which experts believe is behind the resurgence of the virus in the country.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock while replying to a question asked by Labour Party MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi in Parliament about the double mutation variant detected in India and the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against it said, “We are acting on a precautionary basis because I can’t give him that assurance. And, of course, we are looking into that question as fast as possible,”
Hancock said one of the concerns about the Indian variant is that the vaccines may be less effective, in terms of transmission and/or in terms of reducing hospitalisation and death.
“It is the same concern that we have with the variant found in South Africa and is the core reason why we took this decision today,” Hancock said, referring to UK’s decision to add India to its COVID-19 travel ‘red list’.
The decision effectively bans all travel from India and makes a 10-day hotel quarantine compulsory for UK residents arriving back to the country. The new rule will come into force from Friday.
The move to add India to the red list came hours after Downing Street announced the cancellation of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to the country next week due to a spike in coronavirus infections in the country.