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Northern Ireland Protocol ‘dead in the water’, senior ally of Boris Johnson says From “Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines”



UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, Lord Frost – PAThe Northern Ireland Protocol is “dead in the water”, a senior ally of Boris Johnson has said as the Government gave the European Union two months to make the system work.Ministers are increasingly worried about the way that the European Union is enforcing checks when goods move from Great Britain and Northern Ireland.There are fears among senior figures that unless the EU eases checks in time for when the marching season reaches its peak on July 12, tensions could flare.A Government source said: “The marching season is a date whereby you would want to have a material improvement in what is happening.“We need a bit of movement by then because that is when we risk seeing the kind of disruption and the protests that we had recently.”The terms of the Protocol, signed as part of the UK’s exit from the European Union, are designed to stop goods originating from Great Britain passing into the Republic of Ireland without any checks.However the UK Government estimates the EU is carrying out 20 per cent of all its external border checks at the so-called ‘sea border’ in the Irish Sea.One UK source said EU officials were halting shipments of own-brand loaves of bread being transported from a Sainsbury’s supermarket in Liverpool to a sister store in Belfast, even though there are no Sainsbury’s shops in the Republic.Lord Frost, Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator, and his team are examining the idea of ‘mutual enforcement’ of border checks, in which either side enforces checks at the same level as the other, effectively removing them. However the EU is said not to want to engage.Officially the Government still wants to make the protocol work, with insiders insisting that Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, does not want to rip up a treaty just six months into Brexit, although nothing is ruled out.One source said: “If they don’t make improvements in the next period of time obviously we are going to have to consider other options.”Story continuesThe replacement of Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster with the more hardline Edwin Poots on Friday has increased jitters in Number 10.Senior allies of Mr Johnson are increasingly pessimistic with one describing the protocol to The Telegraph as “dead in the water”.The senior ally added: “The Northern Ireland Protocol does not work. It contravenes the Good Friday Agreement in many ways. It is damaging.“It is not a workable agreement. Whatever you think about Arlene Foster, she was a moderate. And it is always dangerous when you start losing moderates from these key positions.”Mr Poots increased pressure over the protocol on Saturday, pointing out that more than twice as many checks are carried out in Northern Ireland ports as in Rotterdam.He told The Telegraph that it was “damaging Northern Ireland’s economy and undermining the Union” by “disrupting trade with our biggest and most important market”.He added: “No rational argument could be made for the Protocol. It is madness and must go. We hear Lord Frost’s words and we hear the Prime Minister’s words but we need to see action.”The mechanisms are open to the Government to deal with this flawed Protocol but the longer it is left untouched the more damage it is causing. We will be pressing the Government to act and act with urgency.A senior Government source said on Saturday that the UK still wanted to make the protocol work.They said: “The EU’s strict approach to implementing the protocol is having a huge impact on the everyday lives of the people of Northern Ireland, and worse still, there are signs that it is upsetting the delicate balance of the peace process.“We cannot tolerate unreasonable impacts on trade across the United Kingdom. This is not consistent with the Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement or, therefore, with the Protocol.“We’re totally focused on protecting the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and restoring stability on the ground in Northern Ireland.“As a co-signatory of the Protocol the EU has a responsibility to support these efforts. But if the EU’s only concern is the protection of their Single Market, the arrangement risks becoming unsustainable.“We are continuing to work hard to resolve problems with the EU in a pragmatic way. If we cannot, as the PM has said, no options can remain off the table.”







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Johnson ‘must think again on plans to relax Covid rules’ | Coronavirus From “World news | The Guardian”



Boris Johnson was under mounting pressure on Saturday to reconsider Monday’s relaxation of Covid rules in England because of the threat posed by the India variant. His own advisers and independent health experts raised fears that it could lead to a surge in hospital admissions, especially among young adults.From Monday people will be able to meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors, while six people or two households will be permitted to meet indoors. Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers indoors. Indoor entertainment such as museums, cinemas and children’s play areas can also open along with theatres, concert halls, conference centres and sports stadiums.Overnight stays will be allowed. Weddings, receptions and other ceremonies will be able to take place among groups of up to 30. Unlimited numbers of people will be able to attend funerals.But there are fears the new India variant could trigger a third wave, just as the “big bang” relaxation approaches. Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the government’s taskforce on new and emerging viruses (Nervtag), said the relaxations would drive up the numbers infected with the India variant and that unvaccinated younger adults would be most at risk.“Indoor mixing will almost certainly increase transmission of the B.1.617.2 variant but at this stage nobody can be sure by how much,” he said.Hayward added that many people would end up in hospital if, as feared, the variant proved 40% more transmissible than previous variants, notably the Kent variant, which drove the lethal second wave over the winter. Modelling by the government’s own Sage committee of scientific advisers has already said the increase in transmissibility from the new variant could be as high as 50%.“A 20% increase in transmissibility is not a big problem; [but] a 40% increase would be a huge problem and could lead to a sizeable surge in hospitalisations. A big surge in hospitalisations would likely have knock-on consequences for routine health services and the backlog of care,” Hayward warned.Meanwhile Professor Kit Yates, a member of the Independent Sage committee of scientific experts, told the Observer that Johnson should delay Monday’s unlocking by a fortnight to allow more people to be vaccinated. By pressing ahead, Yates said the prime minister would be breaching one of the government’s four key tests – that of risk assessment not being changed by a new variant – that he had previously insisted would guide all decisions on when and whether to ease restrictions.“At this point the precautionary principle should kick in,” Yates said. “The more people we can vaccinate, the safer we become. Even a couple of weeks at this point could make a huge difference in the face of this seemingly more transmissible variant. A pause would also buy us time to understand more about the properties of the variant, which would put us in a better position to plan what comes next.”He added: “The rapid rises in B.1.617.2 and the waves of hospitalisations that are predicted by the Sage modelling means that the risk has fundamentally changed and that the fourth test is not being met. The data suggesting a reassessment of the roadmap is there.”Downing Street insisted that the relaxations would go ahead as planned. But Professor Martin McKee, another member of Independent Sage, described easing the lockdown as a real risk: “The prime minister will make his own decision,” he said. “The scientific advice he is receiving is clear. Opening on Mondayis taking a large risk and we know that we have not met the fourth of his tests for proceeding with the scheduled roadmap,” he said.Stressing the dangers for younger adults, McKee added: “While the individual risk to a young person of severe illness is low, if very large numbers are infected the absolute numbers becoming seriously ill could be high.” A third wave of infection would also leave more people suffering the debilitating effects of long Covid, which around 1.1 million Britons already have, McKee added.Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth blamed Boris Johnson for failing to impose earlier border controls. Photograph: MI News/NurPhoto/REX/ShutterstockLabour on Saturday intensified attacks on the government for failing to respond fast enough to calls for surge vaccinations in new Covid “hotspots” including Bolton and Blackburn.Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “With health officials on the ground in Bolton and Blackburn pleading to deploy surge vaccination it beggars belief ministers are rebuffing those calls, especially when the Sage minutes appear to support wider vaccination. It’s urgent that the spread of this variant is contained. We know from the Kent mutation how widespread a variant can become without action.”He also blamed the government for failing act earlier to impose border controls. “The tragedy is if Boris Johnson had put in place robust border controls we could have avoided this. Instead our borders have been like a sieve threatening to set us back when we have come so far.”But a government spokesman said: “We have some of the toughest border measures in the world. We took precautionary action to ban travel from India on 23 April, six days before this variant was put under investigation and two weeks before it was labelled as of concern. We have since sped up our vaccination programme and put in enhanced local support to curb transmission. Prior to India being placed on the red list in April, anyone coming to the UK had to test negative and quarantine for 10 days.”Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert at the University of East Anglia, said: “I do think it will lead to a surge in infections and that we are now entering the third wave.”While the evidence to postpone Monday’s relaxation is not yet there, “we may look back in three weeks’ time and think that step 3 was ill-advised, though we may not”.







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India variant could seriously disrupt lifting of lockdown, says Boris Johnson | Coronavirus From “World news | The Guardian”



The final stage of lifting coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England could face “serious disruption” due to the India variant, the prime minister has warned, as he announced plans to accelerate the vaccine programme to curb its spread.Boris Johnson said the gap between the first and second Covid jab would be cut from 12 weeks to eight for all over 50s and the clinically vulnerable, admitting “the race between our vaccine programme and the virus may be about to become a great deal tighter”.He announced the army would be deployed to two variant hotspots – Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen – to help with vaccinations and urged residents in those areas to “think twice” before taking advantages of the freedoms allowed again from Monday.Johnson said plans to ease restrictions on 17 May – allowing people to meet in groups of six indoors – would go ahead but that the variant “could make it more difficult” for the final stage of unlocking to proceed on 21 June.He said the India variant appeared to be “more transmissible” than the dominant strain in the UK that originated in Kent, but that it was not yet clear by how much. If it is significantly more, then he warned, “we’re likely to face some hard choices”.“I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move to step four in June,” Johnson said.Asked whether the lockdown easing would have to be paused during a press conference, he added: “The truth is, we cannot say for certain … the situation is very different from last year, we are in the throes of an incredible vaccine rollout … We just have to wait and see … we rule nothing out.”The PM’s words came as new documents released from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) revealed just how worried scientists are about the variant.Modelling by Sage suggested it was “a realistic possibility” that it could be up to 50% more transmissible than the Kent variant.If that was the case, they said, progressing to stage 3 of the road map – due on Monday – would “lead to a substantial resurgence of hospitalisations (similar to, or larger than, previous peaks)“.The variant’s spread will raise questions about perceived government delays in adding India to the “red list” of countries from which arrivals have to quarantine in hotels. Johnson’s announcement came following calls from councils in Lancashire and Greater Manchester to let them roll out vaccines to all over-18s in some variant hotspots, including Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen.Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said said the “majority view” of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) was that this approach would be a “net disadvantage”.However, councillor Andy Morgan, Bolton council’s cabinet member for adult social services, insisted the council had been given some “flexibility” to vaccinate younger people, and would be offering vaccines to all over-18s in the three worst-affected wards from Saturday.“Our interpretation of the guidance is that we can start to vaccinate 18s and over in BL3 [the affected postcode] tomorrow, subject to vaccination supply,” he said.“We’ve got some flexibility locally to surge-vaccinate, but the biggest thing for Bolton is not being locked down, which would have been devastating for the town. David Greenhalgh [Bolton’s council leader] has been lobbying every man and a dog all day on that, so we are relieved,” said Morgan.Despite the councillor’s confidence, local politicians have no jurisdiction over vaccination centres. Bolton’s clinical commissioning group runs the district’s eight sites and it is not clear which guidance they will follow. A spokeswoman for Bolton clinical commissioning group suggested there would be no immediate offer of vaccinations to over-18s. “We continue to follow the JCVI guidelines,” she said.Dominic Harrison, the director of public health for Blackburn with Darwen council, said he was extremely disappointed that the government had not given the go-ahead to vaccinating all over-16s in the worst-hit neighbourhoods.He told the Guardian: “It just seems that failing to do all we can in the areas that have the highest rates now is a lost opportunity and we will be saying that to ministers on Monday. What we still haven’t got is a clear national strategy for managing importations and outbreaks of new variants at a local level. There just is no strategy.“It feels like we are making it up on the hoof and you’ve now got Scotland and England giving two different plans of action on the basis of very similar data.”Responding to the spread of the India variant in Scotland, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced that infection rates in Glasgow and Moray meant the areas would remain on level 3 restrictions while the rest of the mainland dropped to level 2 on Monday, which means hugging loved ones and meeting indoors is allowed. She said she was “pretty sure” that the vaccination programme in Scotland would be accelerated, but that she was waiting for advice from the JCVI.The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, also said he had decided against liberalising rules that would have let more people mix and some small public events go ahead.The chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Danny Mortimer, on Friday called for the government to “look at measures around lifting lockdown”. He said ministers should consider whether allowing international travel from 17 May should be “rethought” and giving greater financial support to those who test positive to encourage them to self-isolate.New figures from the Office for National Statistics on Friday showed the number of infected people across the UK continued to fall, but the R number – the average number of people someone with Covid is estimated to pass it on to – rose slightly in England to 0.8-1.1.A Guardian analysis of Public Health England data shows overall Covid cases have risen in four out of 10 UK local authorities in the week to 8 May, with some areas seeing steep rises. The analysis found 151 of 382 local authorities had higher weekly case rates per 100,000 residents compared with the previous seven days, accounting for 39.5% of all areas. Of these, 97 councils had seen cases rise for two consecutive weeks.







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India-Dominant Variant May Delay Easing UK Lockdown: PM Boris Johnson From “NDTV News – World-news”



Britain has been gradually reopening its economy, after months of coronavirus restrictions. (File)London: A rise in cases of the coronavirus variant dominant in India could “pose serious disruption” to Britain’s reopening plans, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Friday.England will take the next step of reopening on Monday as planned, but the final stage, currently scheduled for June 21, could be in doubt.”I do not believe we need to delay our roadmap,” said Johnson.But, “this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress,” he said, adding “We will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe.”The health ministry said the B1.617.2 variant is “beginning to spread increasingly rapidly” in northwest England and to a lesser extent in London, “and decisive action is being taken to further control its spread”.Second doses of vaccines will be accelerated for the over-50s and the clinically vulnerable in a bid to keep the strain at bay, Johnson told the press briefing.Surge testing and possible local restrictions are also in the mix after infections of the variant rose from 520 last week to 1,313 this week, officials said.The government is waiting on data that will indicate if the new variant is more transmissible than other strains currently circulating before deciding on its next step, said Johnson.Scientists believe it is more transmissible, but are unsure of by how much, revealed Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.If only slightly, the country will reopen as planned, said Johnson.But if there is evidence of uncontrollable spread and the threat of increased pressure on NHS then more restrictions are likely, he added.Trust our vaccinesBritain has driven down cases over the last few months thanks to a successful vaccine campaign, and officials are optimistic they will be effective against the variant.”So far, there is no evidence that our vaccine will be less effective against serious illness and hospitalisations,” said the prime minister, adding the country was “in a different position from the last time we faced a new variant.””We should trust in our vaccines… while monitoring the situation very closely,” he said.The government last month added India, which is experiencing a devastating wave of deaths from Covid-19, to a travel red list, meaning travellers from the country have to quarantine in hotels on arrival in Britain.In the northwest English city of Bolton, which has a sizeable population of South Asian origin, mobile testing units have been deployed and door-to-door testing is also on offer.Britain has been gradually reopening its economy, after months of coronavirus restrictions.On Monday, indoor mixing will resume in England, including in pubs and restaurants.Deepti Gurdasani, senior lecturer in epidemiology at Queen Mary’s University London, said that must now be postponed.”Further, we may have to actually strengthen restrictions a bit more to get on top of this, because we need to remember this is actually growing with current restrictions in place and growing rapidly,” she told Times Radio.The variant dominant in India is also triggering concern in Scotland and Wales, which administer their own health policy.Scotland announced on Friday it was going ahead with its next stage of reopening on Monday, except in Glasgow, where restrictions will remain unchanged due to a rise in cases of the variant.







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Boris Johnson says variant from India more transmissible From “International: Top News And Analysis”



British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a televised press conference at 10 Downing Street on February 22, 2021 in London, England.Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty ImagesLONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Friday that the coronavirus variant first discovered in India has the potential to derail the lockdown easing currently underway in the country.The U.K. will now accelerate second doses of vaccines for the over-50s and the clinically vulnerable due to concerns over the variant from India.Speaking at a press conference Friday, Johnson said the variant looked to be more transmissible than other variants, but cautioned that it wasn’t clear by how much. England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, speaking alongside Johnson, added that there’s “confidence” it’s “more transmissible” than the strains already circulating in the country.Whitty said: “Earlier this week we said that we thought that it was as transmissible as B.1.1.7 and possibly even more so. There is now confidence … that this variant is more transmissible than B.1.1.7.”The B.1.1.7 variant, known as the U.K. or Kent strain, has an unusually high number of mutations and is associated with a more efficient and rapid transmission of the coronavirus. British scientists first detected this mutation in September last year and by April it had become the dominant strain in the U.S.Johnson added that there was currently no evidence that the variant would evade the vaccines that are being deployed across the country.”But I have to level with you, this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress,” Johnson said.”And I must stress that we will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe.”Data on the new variant published Thursday by Public Health England showed that the number of cases across the U.K. had risen from 520 last week to 1,313 this week, with most cases concentrated in northwest England and a few clusters in London.The U.K.’s vaccine rollout has been one of the fastest in the world, with almost 70% of the adult population having received at least one shot. Vaccines are available to anyone over age 38, but the government has said they could be made available to younger people living in multigenerational households.The next phase of England’s exit from lockdown is scheduled for Monday, when indoor socializing, hospitality and entertainment will resume.—CNBC’s Elliot Smith contributed to this article.This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.







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UK’s PM Boris Johnson Bids To Cancel Debt Owed To COVID Conspiracy Theorist From “NDTV News – World-news”



The ‘Covid Conspiracy Theorist’ has allegedly launched many claims against the PM (File Photo)London, United Kingdom: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is applying to strike out a court judgment for unpaid debt, Downing Street said, after reports that a “Covid conspiracy theorist” had alleged defamation.Johnson has yet to settle the debt of 535 pounds ($757) following a ruling on October 26 last year, according to an online database of civil county court judgments.”An application will be made for an order to set aside the default judgment, to strike out the claim and for a declaration that the claim is totally without merit,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said late Wednesday.Johnson is named as the debtor and his address is listed as 10 Downing Street — the home of prime ministers since 1735 and one of the country’s best-known residences.A “default judgment” is applied when the respondent fails to reply, and the Daily Mail said the application neither gave Johnson’s full name nor his correct address next door.The newspaper and the Evening Standard reported the claim was brought by a member of the public, who said in her application to an online claims court that Johnson owed her 535 pounds for “repeated defamation”.However, claims for defamation would be heard by higher courts, and the Daily Mail said the claimant “is a Covid conspiracy theorist who has launched multiple claims against Mr Johnson and public institutions”.Johnson’s finances have been increasingly in the spotlight in recent weeks, in part over the reportedly lavish makeover of his Downing Street flat.Asked if Johnson had any other unpaid debts, his press secretary said Wednesday: “You should not be concerned, no.”(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)







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UK PM Johnson says he’s ‘anxious’ about Indian Covid-19 strain, won’t rule out local lockdowns as cases of variant jump — RT World News From “RT World News”



UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wouldn’t rule out imposing local measures to tackle the spread of the Indian Covid-19 variant, after the number of cases detected more than doubled in the past week.

“It is a variant of concern. We are anxious about it. It has been spreading,” Johnson told reporters during a visit to the town of Ferryhill in County Durham on Thursday.The PM said there were a “range of things” the government could do to contain the spread of infection, including surge testing and tracing in areas such as Bolton and Blackburn, where the variant is particularly prevalent.“If we have to do other things, then, of course, the public would want us to rule nothing out,” Johnson added.

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EU drugs regulator says ‘promising evidence’ mRNA vaccines could neutralize Indian Covid-19 variant

The PM’s comments come as the number of cases of the Indian variant detected in England more than doubled from 520 last week to 1,313 this week, according to new data from Public Health England (PHE).The B.1.617.2 variant, which was first detected in India, was labelled a “variant of concern” by PHE last week, due to early evidence it may be more transmissible.It was previously classified as a less severe “variant under investigation.”Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!







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Johnson 'anxious' over rise of Indian virus variant in UK From “World”




British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he’s “anxious” about the rise in the U.K. of the coronavirus variant first identified in India







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UK ‘Anxious’ Over Spread Of India-Dominant Covid Variant: Boris Johnson From “NDTV News – World-news”



In April Boris Johnson’s government added India to a travel red list. (File)London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday his government was worried about the transmission of an India-dominant Covid variant as scientific advisors met to discuss its spread.”It is a variant of concern, we are anxious about it,” Johnson said, as new official figures from Public Health England were expected to show a rise in cases of the strain.”We want to make sure we take all the prudential, cautious steps now that we could take,” he told reporters, adding the government was “ruling nothing out”.Last week, Britain designated the coronavirus variant that had spread to the country through travel from India a “variant of concern”.In April Johnson’s government added India, which on Wednesday passed the grim milestone of 250,000 deaths from Covid, to a travel red list, meaning travellers from the country had to quarantine in hotels on arrival in Britain.The British government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies met Thursday to discuss the spread of the India-dominant variant.Johnson said “surge testing” had been introduced in areas such as Bolton, northwest England, which has a sizeable population of South Asian origin, and where transmission was high.Despite sounding a note of caution, the prime minister said he did not think the government would have to change its plans to partially lift Britain’s coronavirus measures on May 17, and fully lift restrictions on June 21.”At the moment, I can see nothing that dissuades me from thinking we will be able to go ahead,” he said.Britain is gradually reopening its economy, after months of a coronavirus restrictions and a successful mass vaccination campaign.Questions remain, however, about how well the vaccine roll-out will stand up to the India-dominant variant — one of three which has been detected in Britain.James Naismith, from the University of Oxford, told the BBC it was not yet known how infectious the variant would be among those who had been inoculated against Covid.And he said it was likely to spread. “I think we should view it as a countrywide problem,” he added. “It will get everywhere.”We keep learning this lesson, but we know that this will be the case.”(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)







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Looking At Solutions For Indian COVID-19 Variant: UK PM Boris Johnson From “NDTV News – World-news”



Boris Johnson said the COVID-19 variant first detected in India was of “increasing concern”.London: Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said the COVID-19 variant first detected in India was of “increasing concern” in the UK and the country’s health authorities are looking at all possible solutions as its case numbers continue to rise in parts of England.During the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons, he was asked about the variant – named B.1.617.2 and classified as a Variant of Concern (VOC) by Public Health England (PHE) – and told Members of Parliament that it may be “considerably more transmissible” than the dominant variant in the UK first detected in the county of Kent last year.”We must be vigilant because the threat of this virus remains real and new variants pose a potentially lethal danger, including the one first identified in India which is of increasing concern here in the UK,” said Johnson.”We are looking at all potential solutions for the surges we are seeing in Bolton and elsewhere including that, although that is not top of the list right now,” he said, in response to a question on whether people in the most affected areas of Britain could be accelerated through the vaccination queue.The UK Prime Minister revealed there are now “860 or so” cases in England of the VOC detected in India, “but there may be more” as the variant “may be considerably more transmissible”.The variant B.1.617.2 is one of three subtypes of the variant first detected in India and was designated as a VOC by PHE last week after over 500 cases were found in parts of England. It is among a list of variants, including those first found in South Africa and Brazil, currently being monitored as VOCs in Britain.So far, 127,890 lives have been lost and 4,455,446 people have been infected by the coronavirus in the UK, according to Johns Hopkins University.







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