India added to Covid travel ban 'red list'

Ruben Fields
April 20, 2021

The variant, also known as B.1.617, is now designated as a "variant under investigation" (VUI) rather than a "variant of concern" (VOC), such as those first identified in Kent, Manaus (Brazil) or South Africa.

Why are some variants concerning?

Mutations in a specific region of the spike protein may allow the virus to evade or partially evade the effectiveness of vaccines or natural immunity.

British Indian entrepreneur Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, Founder and Chairman of Morningside Pharmaceuticals, echoed similar views on the Indo-Pacific tilt and stressed on the healthcare sector as a particular focus area.

India is now recording more new cases of coronavirus than any other country, and this week it is expected to rise above the high tide of the epidemic seen in the United States, when daily new cases peaked at almost 300,000 in early January. It is thought the variant may also be able to infect the body more easily.

Which ones are in the UK?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said so far 103 cases of the Indian variant had been identified in the UK.

Is the Indian variant more transmissible and will vaccines still work against it?

If it meets any of these criteria, it moves from being under investigation to become a variant of concern (VOC).

Czechs expel 18 Russian diplomats, seek Skripal suspects over 2014 blast
Police added that the men are known to be carrying various passports, including Russian passports with Petrov and Boshirov's names.

Hancock said test samples had been analysed to see if the new variant had any "concerning characteristics" such as greater transmissibility or resistance to treatments and vaccines.

The picture is now unclear, although most experts say the current range of vaccines in use should offer some protection against variants.

He told ITV's Good Morning Britain that variants of the virus "do pose a threat" and that vulnerable people could be "caught out".

Vaccines Will the variant render vaccines less effective?

- A further four people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, bringing the United Kingdom total by that measure to 127,274.

"India did not take pre-emptive action and the situation is really dire - we need to start acting before it gets as bad as India".

The first point on the list is particularly important, because the genome sequencing needed to identify new variants is very sophisticated and relatively rare. Prof Christina Pagel, director of the Clinical Operational Research Unit at University College London and a member of the Independent Sage group of experts, has advised the British premier against visiting India with the surge of the variant in the country.

Agrawal said the mutations make the variant "more likely to transmit and escape prior immunity".

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