Britain to ‘flex’ vaccine rollout to adapt to rapidly growing Indian Covid variant

The UK’s vaccines minister has said the country will be adapting its vaccination plan to tackle the increasing prevalence of the Indian variant, and additional doses have been sent to areas with higher levels of the strain.

Speaking on Friday, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC that health authorities would be stepping up testing and asking all residents in areas where variants are prevalent to take a PCR test.

The vaccines minister said the government would also “flex” the inoculation program to counter the growth of new variants, notably the Indian strain, which is growing alarmingly quickly.

Zahawi said the government had already sent addition vaccines to Bolton and was working with local authorities to distribute them quickly. He also said there was a trial in Luton that saw multi-generational households vaccinated at the same time.

“We will do whatever it takes in the vaccination programme…to deliver additional enhanced protection,” Zahawi stated, cautioning that it would still take at least two weeks for a first dose to begin to take effect.

On Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he was “anxious” about the spread of the Indian variant. Public Health England (PHE) said that 1,313 UK cases of the strain had been recorded, more than double the 520 cases recorded by the body up to May 5.

Zahawi claimed the strain appears to be more infectious but said there is no evidence that it is more harmful or evades the current vaccines in use. London, Bolton, Tyneside, and Nottingham are among the places where the variant has been detected.

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