Matt Hancock announces trial of coronavirus booster vaccines
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According to the latest test and trace figures, the number of people who have tested positive in England has risen by 22 percent, the highest level in six weeks. A total of 17,162 people received a positive test result in the week to May 26.
This marks a rise of more than a fifth on the previous week and the highest number of positive test results since April 14.
The figures also found the number of rapid COVID-19 tests has fallen to its lowest level in six weeks across the country.
This comes after the Indian coronavirus variant was found to be dominant in a fifth of areas in England.
Latest figures show the B.1.617.2 variant – referred to as Delta – was dominant in 67 of 315 local authorities.
At least five cases were found for the two weeks ending May 22.
This means the variant accounted for between 51 percent and 100 percent of cases in those affected areas, according to Sky News.
According to recent data from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, 230 local authorities reported at least one case of the variant.
While figures found the Indian variant made up 66.7 percent of cases in England, leading experts believe it could be as high as 76 percent.
Back in December, the Kent variant – first identified in the South East –accounted for almost all reported cases in England until early April.
The Indian variant, which was first identified in April, saw it spread quickly in areas such as Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen and Bedford.
Now, Alex Selby, a mathematician at the University of Cambridge, said the variant has now spread to most areas, with infections doubling nationwide every eight days.
The Kent variant is now only dominant across 39 local authorities and the Indian variant is more transmissible, according to Mr Selby.
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Research has shown two vaccine doses reduces the risk of severe illness from the variant by up to 88 percent.
Infections increased among teenagers and spread to younger adults, however, there has yet to be a similar increase in cases among the older, double-vaccinated age groups.
Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the lack of hospital admissions is encouraging.
He said: “There’s not been much of an increase in hospital admissions so far.
“When cases increased like they did last time, hospital admissions increased by more and sooner.
“So that gives me hope.”
To date, more than 39,000,000 people in the UK have received their first Covid vaccine jab, while 26,073,284 have been fully vaccinated.
However, Professor Christina Pagel, an independent SAGE member, said even with the vaccine rollout not everyone is protected.
She said: “If cases get really high, even with vaccines, it will still be a problem.
“The variant will find those people who are not vaccinated and that small number for whom the vaccine doesn’t work.”
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