Vaccine does work against Indian variant, says health secretary

Heath Secretary Matt Hancock speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Photo: House of Common/PA Wire

Heath Secretary Matt Hancock speaking in the House of Commons. - Credit: PA

The health secretary has reiterated that people being vaccinated "will help us get through this pandemic", as 2,300 cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK.

Matt Hancock gave an address in the House of Commons in which he outlined the steps that had been taken to combat the Indian variant of Coronavirus.

He said there are now 2,323 confirmed cases of the Indian variant in the UK in 86 local authorities - 483 have been seen in Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen.

He added: "Cases there have doubled in the last week and are rising in all age groups.

"In Blackburn, hospitalisations are stable with eight people currently in hospital with Covid, and in Bolton 19 people are now in hospital with coronavirus - the majority of whom are eligible for a vaccine but haven't yet had a vaccine.
"This shows the new variant is not tending to penetrate into older, vaccinated groups and it underlines again the importance of getting the jab especially - but not only - amongst the vulnerable age groups."

Since the increase in cases in Bolton and Blackburn, the government has sent in its rapid response team and visited around 35,000 people to distribute and collect tests.

Mr Hancock added: "We've installed six new testing units, we've brought in over 50 new vaccinators and set up two new vaccination centres, as well as extending opening hours and capacity at our existing sites.

"In Bolton, we've quadrupled the rate of vaccination. We carried out 6,200 vaccinations over this weekend."

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The Health Secretary also updated MP's on the most recent scientific findings from Oxford University, which suggests that the Indian variant is more transmissible than the previously dominant Kent variant.

He said: "We do not yet know to what extent it is more transmissible.

"While we also don't have the complete picture on the impact of the vaccine, the early laboratory data from Oxford University corroborates the evidence from Bolton Hospital and the initial observational data from India that vaccines are effective against this variant."

Mr Hancock also announced that 37-year-olds will be offered the chance to get the Coronavirus vaccine from Tuesday.

He told The Commons that the data suggests the vaccine has already saved over 12,000 lives and prevented over 33,000 people from being hospitalised.

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