Millions set to get urgent second Covid vaccine dose to slow Indian variant after cases double
TEN million Brits could get an urgent second vaccine dose to hold back the Indian variant after cases doubled in a week.
Ministers are set to slash the gap between first and second Covid vaccine doses for vulnerable Brits amid growing alarm at the spread of the Indian variant.
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Downing Street has asked the JCVI to consider the radical move after the number of Brits struck down by the super infectious strain doubled in a week.
It means around 10 million Brits – who are in the top priority groups yet to receive both doses – could have their second jab brought forward.
Boris Johnson said he was “anxious” at the surge – but is so far hopeful it will not delay the easing of the hated lockdown.
But under emergency moves thrashed out last night, the government has asked the JCVI to look at overhauling the vaccine rollout.
Under the emergency plans, the 12 week gap between the two doses would be cut for everyone in priority groups 1 to 9. This includes everyone over 50.
Ministers are keen that the most vulnerable get the fullest possible protection.
The government hopes this will not delay their target to vaccinate all adults by the end of July, but are looking at what impact any change may have in that timetable.
The move comes after a crunch Sage meeting was held which discussed the Indian strain.
Scientists are alarmed at how rapidly the variant is spreading.
But there is no current evidence to suggest vaccines do not work on the strain.
It comes as the PM said he still expected to tear up lockdown restrictions on Monday and on June 21.
Upbeat health chiefs also cautioned against panic as they said there was no evidence vaccines did not work against the strain.
Speaking while out and about in Durham, the PM vowed to get a grip on the new strain while pushing ahead with lifting restrictions.
He said: “At the moment, I can see nothing that dissuades me from thinking we will be able to go ahead on Monday and indeed on June 21, everywhere.
"But there may be things that we have to do locally and we will not hesitate to do them if that is the advice we get.”
The PM said he was ruling nothing out when it came to battling the new strain — and could impose regional restrictions again if drastic measures were needed.
He said: “There are a range of things that we could do. We want to make sure that we grip it.
“Obviously, there’s surge testing, surge tracing, making sure that whenever you have a case you check everybody who has been in contact with that person.
“If we have to do other things, then, of course, the public would want us at this stage to rule nothing out.”
I can see nothing that dissuades me from thinking we will be able to go ahead on Monday and indeed on June 21.
His comments will reassure those desperately looking forward to Monday’s great unlocking.
Pubs and restaurants can finally reopen indoors, while family and friends will be able to hug for the first time in more than a year.
Sun-seekers will be able to get away on holiday to a small selection of green list countries without having to quarantine.
All restrictions are expected to be torn up on June 21 as long as the variant does not take off.
Fears the unlocking plans could be delayed have been fuelled by alarming new data showing the Indian strain has rocketed.
In the past week, the number of cases has soared from 520 to 1,313.
ALARMING NEW DATA
A separate plan for easing restrictions, with later dates for unlocking, has been drawn up and is being circulated in the Cabinet Office in case the variant does take hold, The Sun has been told.
But last night, Downing Street sources furiously denied this.
Privately, many Tory MPs are angry that it took so long to add India to the red list despite cases surging there. People returning from red list countries must quarantine for ten days in a hotel.
The Sun says
DOWNING Street and its scientists must not over-react to the Indian Covid variant.
Despite his jitters, Boris Johnson insists we’ll regain our freedoms on time. Good.
The Sun has always said the only significant figures are rising deaths and hospitalisations. There is zero sign of either, even as variant cases spike.
Our miraculous vaccines have broken the link between infections and deaths. Unlike last year, the latter won’t follow the former unless the variant can somehow beat the power of the jabs. And there is no suggestion of that yet either.
If cases do soar, but symptoms are minor or none — as is likely in jabbed people — we have nothing to fear.
As long as Covid infection has been reduced to a negligible threat we MUST reopen even if thousands a day test positive.
Indian Covid has struck four hotspots across England particularly badly — Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen, Bedford and South Northamptonshire.
Experts have suggested people in these areas will have to stick with measures such as mask-wearing even if they are ditched elsewhere.
But Whitehall insiders said as long as hospital admissions and deaths do not creep up, the plan for lifting lockdown stays on course.
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