Govt cites new variant as reason for decreasing jab gap

“We want to make sure that we take all the prudential, all the cautious steps now that we could take,” Johnson was quoted as saying to Sky News…reports Asian Lite News.

The UK government has decided to shorten the gap between the first and second dose of covid vaccines amid concerns about the spread of the B.1.617 variant of the virus that originated in India.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said those aged over 50 and those considered clinically vulnerable will be able to get a second vaccine dose after eight weeks. Earlier, it was 12 weeks window.

This development comes just a day after government of India decided to extend the interval between two doses of Covid-19 vaccine – Covishield – to 12 weeks. Earlier, it was six weeks window.

 “We have seen larger clusters of the B.1.617 variant first observed in India since last Monday. We believe this variant is more transmissible than the previous one. But we don’t know by how much. We will accelerate vaccination to those over 50 and those who are clinically vulnerable right across the country so that doses come 8 weeks after the first dose,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson sauid during a press conference.

He said that his country is “anxious” about the coronavirus variant detected in India and the government is “ruling nothing out” to tackle its spread.

“We want to make sure that we take all the prudential, all the cautious steps now that we could take,” Johnson was quoted as saying to Sky News.

Scientists have raised concerns that the current vaccines may be less effective against the new variants.

Boris (Number 10 Flickr)

The consortium of scientists studying new variants in the country, COG-UK, has identified a total of 1,723 cases of the Indian variant known as B1617.2.

Although some of these will be duplicates, it is more than triple Public Health England’s confirmed figure last week of 520, according to Sky News.

The Prime Minister said he “can see nothing that dissuades me from thinking we’ll be able to go ahead on Monday and indeed on June 21 everywhere” in terms of easing coronavirus restrictions in England.

“I think we have to wait a little bit longer to see how the data is looking but I am cautiously optimistic about that and provided this Indian variant doesn’t take off in the way some people fear, I think certainly things could get back much, much closer to normality,” he said.

From today, pubs, bars and restaurants in England are permitted to open indoors, while indoor entertainment will also resume, including cinemas, museums and children’s play areas.

People in England will be allowed to meet outdoors in groups of up to 30 people, and meet indoors in groups of up to six or as two households.

Meanwhile, all remaining accommodation including hotels, hostels and B&Bs can also reopen, according to Johnson.

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