Coronavirus news UK latest – Pfizer vaccine approval for children aged 12 to 15 amid highest Covid case rate since April

THE Indian coronavirus variant could be 100% more transmissible than the Kent strain, an expert has warned.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today Programme Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said: "The best estimate at the moment is this variant may be 60% more transmissible than the Alpha [Kent] variant.

"There's some uncertainty around that depending on assumption and how you analyse the data, between about 30% and maybe even up to 100% more transmissible… Certainly substantially more transmissible."

It comes as new data suggests the mutation is twice as likely to cause hospitalisation, as June 21's "Freedom Day" hangs in the balance.

A Public Health England report showed that people who tested positive for the Indian coronavirus variant were at 161% higher risk of needing hospital treatment within 14 days.

This figure already factors in aspects such as vaccine status, age and ethnicity and points to the Indian strain being twice as likely to put you in hospital after contracting it.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the latest news and updates…

  • Joseph Gamp

    MAPPED: THE COVID HOTPOTS WITH RISING CASES

  • Joseph Gamp

    BORIS JOHNSON TO TAKE 'ADDED CAUTION' OVER JUNE 21 DECISION

    Boris Johnson will take “added caution” when deciding whether to press ahead with the June 21 end of lockdown, a senior ally said today.

    Cabinet big beast Robert Jenrick hinted freedom day hangs in the balance as experts issued a series of dire warnings about the Indian variant.

    He said there are “some signals that we’re seeing” within the latest data about the impact of the new strain.

    The PM is set to make a decision in 10 days’ time on whether to go ahead with lifting all restrictions or pause the end of lockdown.

    More on the story here.

  • Joseph Gamp

    WATCH: COVID CASES RISE 50% IN A WEEK AMID FEARS JUNE 21 EASING WILL BE DELAYED AS 6,238 TEST POSITIVE AND 11 PEOPLE DIE

    Covid cases rise 50% in a WEEK amid fears June 21 easing will be delayed as 6,238 test positive and 11 people die

  • Joseph Gamp

    GRAPHIC: UK COVID-19 CASES AND DEATHS PER DAY

  • Joseph Gamp

    BIDEN ANNOUNCES PLAN TO VACCINATE THE WORLD

    The White House on Thursday unveiled President Joe Biden’s plans to share Covid-19 vaccines with the world, including its intent to direct 75% of excess doses through the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing program.

    The White House has previously stated its intent to share 80 million vaccine doses with the world by the end of June. The administration says 25% of doses will be kept in reserve for emergencies and for the U.S. to share directly with allies and partners.

    The long-awaited vaccine sharing plan comes as demand for shots in the U.S. has dropped significantly as more than 63% of adults have received at least one dose, and as global inequities in supply have become more glaring.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BREAKING

    UK Covid cases have risen 50 per cent in a week, with 6,238 positive tests and 11 deaths recorded yesterday.

    The leap comes amid fears the June 21 lockdown easing will be delayed as cases of the Indian variant of the virus surge.

    Last Friday saw 4,182 new infections of the virus, with the overall figure now 4,506, 018.

    The overall death toll in the UK is now 127,823 after the latest publication of fatalities today.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SWEET SHOT

    Mixing Covid vaccines may hit the “sweet spot of best protection”, scientists believe.

    Ongoing studies have so far provided positive evidence that using a cocktail of jabs is both safe and possibly more effective.

    It bodes well for a booster vaccination programme in the autumn, when more jabs will need to be given to the vulnerable to make sure their protection stays high.

    Professor Robin Shattock, head of mucosal infection and immunity at Imperial College London, explained the science behind switching jabs.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    COUGH UP

    Donald Trump has ordered China to pay "ten trillion dollars" to the United States for the "death and destruction" caused by the Covid pandemic.

    The former US president also blasted Anthony Fauci's "foolish" funding of the infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology amid growing calls for the top doc to explain how much he knew about work being done at the lab.

    According to the Daily Mail, Trump said: "Now everyone, even the so-called 'enemy', are beginning to say that President Trump was right about the China Virus coming from Wuhan Lab."

    "China should pay USD 10 trillion to America, and the world, for the death and destruction they have caused!"

    More on the story here.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    POSSIBLE INDIAN STRAIN MUTATION INVESTIGATED

    UK health officials urgently investigate a spike mutation – labelled K417N, also known as the Nepal variant 

    Whilst ministers express concerns about the emergence of a Nepal variant of coronavirus, scientists raise doubt over its existence.

    It is speculated that there are more than 40 cases in the UK, with Public Health England (PHE) saying it was investigating the new spike mutation of the Indian variant

    Housing secretary, Robert Jenrick said there is "growing evidence of a further mutation being called the Nepal variant" which was partly due to Portugal's removal from the Government's green list for international travel.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    VLAD’S NEW JAB

    Russian scientists claim they have created a new vaccine “effective against ANY mutant strain of Covid".

    Clinical trials are due to begin next month, said Tatyana Yakovleva, deputy head of Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA).

    "No matter what mutation [the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus undergoes, the vaccine will keep protecting us from Covid-19."

    Yakovleva claimed the vaccine was different to others because it creates "humoural immunity (which lasts for no more than six months) for certain proteins, as the existing drugs do," and cell-mediated immunity.

    Mutations occur when new proteins in the virus evolve and become resistant to existing treatments.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    MUTANT FEARS

    Eight areas on scientists’ Covid watchlist are still seeing cases rise, as the June 21 lockdown lifting is on edge.

    There are currently 25 areas on the Zoe Covid Symptom Study’s watchlist, based on the prevalence of the virus.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUE DISTANCING

    Social distancing is likely to remain "part of people's response" to Covid-19 as long as the virus persists, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

    "I think that social distancing remains one of the strongest defences that we have against the risks that the virus continues to pose," Drakeford said today.

    "I think they will remain part of the repertoire, here in Wales, during the rest of the summer, maybe into the rest of this year.

    "Whether we will be able to move from them being mandatory to just things that we advise people about and ask people to do in their own lives, I think that will depend upon whether we continue to see improvements in the position here in Wales.

    "But as part of a personal repertoire of things that every one of us can do to keep ourselves and others safe, I think they will remain part of people's response to this public health crisis for as long as coronavirus persists."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BREAKING

    The official R rate in England could be as high as 1.3 in the North West – a hotspot hit hard by the Indian variant.

    It comes after experts warned the mutation could be 100 per cent more infectious than the Kent variant, which caused the country to lockdown in January.

    Variant fears mean June 21's "Freedom Day" could be delayed, if cases keep going up and the mutations cause havoc.

    Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, whose modelling was instrumental to the UK locking down in March 2020 said vaccines are helping, but warned the Indian variant is spreading.

    More on the story here.

  • Hana Carter

    WUHDUNNIT?

    Any evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic was caused by a lab leak has probably been destroyed by China, the former head of MI6 has warned.

    Sir Richard Dearlove believes the world may never be able to prove the theory if relevant data from the Wuhan Institute of Virology has disappeared.

    Speaking to The Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast, he said western countries have been “naive” in their trust of China.

    He added that scientists who wanted to speak out about “gain of function” experiments in the country have probably been “silenced”.

    Sir Richard, who headed up the secret intelligence service between 1999 and 2004, said: “The People’s Republic of China is a pretty terrifying regime and does some things we consider unacceptable and extreme in silencing opposition to the official line of the government.”

  • Hana Carter

    BIDEN ANNOUNCES PLAN TO VACCINATE THE WORLD

    The White House on Thursday unveiled President Joe Biden’s plans to share Covid-19 vaccines with the world, including its intent to direct 75% of excess doses through the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing program.

    The White House has previously stated its intent to share 80 million vaccine doses with the world by the end of June. The administration says 25% of doses will be kept in reserve for emergencies and for the U.S. to share directly with allies and partners.

    The long-awaited vaccine sharing plan comes as demand for shots in the U.S. has dropped significantly as more than 63% of adults have received at least one dose, and as global inequities in supply have become more glaring.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    DIRTY DASH

    Thousands of Brits are now facing a desperate battle to get home from Portugal in the next four days to beat new amber list quarantine rules and £1,000 Covid tests.

    More than 112,000 Brits are currently in the popular holiday destination and have less than 96 hours to get home before Portugal is removed from the UK’s green list.

    Seats on the last flights to London from the Algarve have shot up to a staggering £711 today as holidaymakers try to beat the deadline.

    This means thousands have decided to cut their trips short to ensure they don’t have to quarantine when they touch back down in the UK.

    More on the story here.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BREAKING

    France is to welcome fully vaccinated Brits from June 9, without having to quarantine on arrival.

    Brits with just one jab will still have to quarantine for seven days when entering the country.

    More on the story here.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    PORTUGAL LAMENTS REMOVAL FROM UK'S TRAVEL GREEN LIST

    Moving Portugal off the UK's green list is "an overreaction", an epidemiologist in the popular holiday destination has claimed.

    Professor Henrique Barros, president of Portugal's National Health Council, said the country's overall coronavirus situation is "relatively stable".

    He made the comments after Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said positive cases had doubled in the last three weeks in Portugal.

    Prof Barros told Sky News: "We didn't reach such an increase, except as I said in a specific area around Lisbon.

    "The overall picture in the country, we didn't reach such figures."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    'TOO RISKY'

    A Chinese scientist warned of the enormous danger posed by her own research after creating a new form of coronavirus in a Wuhan lab, it has been revealed.

    Shi Zhengli, Wuhan Institute of Virology's lead coronavirus researcher, was among a number of scientists who proved in 2015 that the spike protein of a novel coronavirus could infect human cells, Vanity Fair reports.

    Experts inserted a protein from a Chinese rufous horseshoe bat into a SARS virus in 2002, creating a coronavirus that could infect humans.

    This "Frankenvirus" experiment – when scientists tinker with viruses to see if they can infect or spread faster – was so alarming that the authors flagged the danger, writing "scientific review panels may deem similar studies…too risky to pursue". 

    More on the story here.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SPANNER IN THE WORKS

    Boris Johnson will take "added caution" when deciding whether to press ahead with the June 21 end of lockdown, a senior ally said today.

    Cabinet big beast Robert Jenrick hinted freedom day hangs in the balance as experts issued a series of dire warnings about the Indian variant.

    He said there are "some signals that we're seeing" within the latest data about the impact of the new strain.

    The PM is set to make a decision in 10 days' time on whether to go ahead with lifting all restrictions or pause the end of lockdown.

    More on the story here.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    DOES THE COVID VACCINE PROTECT FROM THE INDIAN VARIANT?

    Jabbed-up Brits are protected against the Indian Covid variant, "astounding" tests have shown. The vaccinations offer positive signs of resistance to the spreading mutant strain, it has emerged.

    Professor Susan Hopkins, PHE's Covid-19 strategic response director, said the data trend was "quite clear" and heading in the "right direction".

    But a new study on the Pfizer vaccine, published last night found that people who are given that jab produce fewer antibodies to protect them against the virus.

    Experts at the Francis Crick Institute and the National Institute for Health Research UCLH Biomedical Research Centre found that antibodies are lower with increasing age and also decline over time.

    It suggests that more people could tests positive for the variant but that they might not fall ill with it.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    'EXERCISE CAUTION'

    The Indian variant doubles the risk of hospitalisation, public health chiefs fear.

    The strain, officially named "Delta", is now the UK's dominant Covid strain – with cases doubling in the past week.

    A total of 12,431 cases of the Indian variant have been confirmed in the UK up to June 2, up 79 per cent from the week prior (6,959).

    It now represents 73 per cent of all sequenced cases.

    As well as being faster spreading and able to weaken vaccines, the variant now show signs of causing mroe severe disease.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SIDE EFFECTS

    Even people who have mild Covid can end up with long-term psychiatric problems, a study has found.

    Some coronavirus symptoms may also be more common in those with a mild case than those treated in hospital.

    Lead author Dr Jonathan Rogers at University College London said: "We had expected that neurological and psychiatric symptoms would be more common in severe Covid-19 cases, but instead we found that some symptoms appeared to be more common in mild cases. 

    More on the story here.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    TRAFFIC LIGHT LIST

    What countries are green, amber and red on the traffic light list? Below is everything you need to know about travelling abroad…

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    WHEN DOES PORTUGAL GO ON THE AMBER LIST?

    The change officially takes place at 4am on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, meaning anyone returning after that date will have to self-isolate for 10 days.

    Brits are now rushing to book flights home in order to beat the deadline.

    Travellers returning from Portugal and other amber list countries will be required to take a pre-departure PCR Covid test and provide a negative result.

    They will then have to pay for a further two tests on days two and eight of their 10-day quarantine.

    Brits can opt for private Covid test providers, which can cost between £120 and £300 per person – or slightly cheaper options are available from Boots and Superdrug.

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