Spread of 'Indian variant' revealed as June 21 lockdown end approaches

Coronavirus testing is available to anyone who has symptoms. Picture: PA/Andrew Milligan

Coronavirus testing is available to anyone who has symptoms. Picture: PA/Andrew Milligan - Credit: PA

Interactive maps reveal the spread of the 'Indian variant' of Covid-19 across the country, including Hackney which saw its first cases this month.

The spread of the variant has led to concerns from some commentators over the government's final step out of lockdown, planned for June 21. 

For the seven days up to May 15, Hackney saw just three Indian variant cases.

This makes up a total of 11 per cent of all Covid cases in the borough, according to a map created by the Wellcome Sangar Institute, using official data. 

On April 10, there were 14 Indian variant cases in the UK and zero in Hackney. Two weeks later, Hackney had two cases.

When it was found in parts of Dalston and Shoreditch on May 17 the council boosted testing, but said it found "no particular increase" in Indian variant cases after processing 600 tests. 

Dr Sandra Husbands, director of public health for Hackney Council, said at the time: "Viruses constantly change through mutation, which can make them spread more easily, be more dangerous to us or mean our treatments are not as effective

"That is why when a variant of concern is identified in an area we work quickly to stop this variant of the virus in its tracks."

The number of people testing positive with strains of concern has continued to rise, with the variant first identified in India, also known as B.1.617.2, found in 127 out of 314 local authorities in the UK in the week ending May 8, up from 71 the week before. 

B1617.2 was one of four variants declared "of concern" due to appearing more transmissible than the generic strain by scientists. Others include the South African and Brazil variants. 

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However a recent study by Public Health England found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88 per cent effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant two weeks after the second dose. 

Britain's health minister said in response to the data that he was increasingly hopeful that the government could lift more restrictions in June.