Jeremy Vine panel clash over COVID-19 case spikes
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The “triple threat” variant with a “strange combination” of genes was identified in Yorkshire and the Humber. Health officials urged the public not to be “alarmed” by the new VUI-21MAY-01 or AV.1 variant as they believe it is not any more transmissible than other strains such as those from India.
Greg Fell, director of public health in Sheffield, said: “We have been monitoring VUI-21MAY-01 and we’re managing this carefully as we do with all outbreaks across the city.
“There is no evidence to suggest this strain is any more transmissible than other strains identified in the UK and across the world, or to suggest the vaccine doesn’t work against this strain.”
News of the latest variant comes as the R rate, which monitors the spread of the virus, slowly begins to rise again.
The R rate in the UK is now estimated to be between 0.9 and 1.1, the highest it’s been since the peak of the second wave in January.
If the R rate creeps above 1, this indicates that the epidemic is growing again.
“Please don’t be alarmed,” said Mr Fell, “We want you to continue doing what you have been for the past year.
“Follow the guidance, continue to wash your hands regularly and wear a mask indoors.’
“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 variants.”
Currently the UK is experiencing isolated surges of the Indian variant in Bolton, Blackburn and Bedford but Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is confident the variant will not disrupt the UK’s easing of lockdown.
In a statement on May 20, Mr Johnson said: “We will be letting everybody know exactly what sort of arrangements to expect for 21 June.
“But what I can tell you, and just to stress that I am still seeing nothing in the data that leads me to think that we’re going to have to deviate from the roadmap – obviously we must remain cautious but I’m seeing nothing that makes me think we have to deviate.”
The UK has fully vaccinated over 21.6 million people and provided a first jab to over 70 percent of adults.
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NHS England said jabs will be offered to those aged 33 and over from today and those aged 32 from Monday.
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