Coronavirus UK news – India's terrifying 'double mutant' covid strain sparks fear it could make world's vaccines useless

INDIA'S terrifying "double mutant" strain of coronavirus is causing "increased concern" around the world.

This morning Boris Johnson cancelled a scheduled visit to New Delhi as the virus there increasingly rages out of control.

Although it is not yet classified a variant of concern like Brazil or SOuth African strains , the fact it contains multiple mutations from the original SARS CoV-2 makes it much less easy to predict.

Two of the mutations seen in the India strain could make dodge vaccines much easier than earlier variants, while a third mutation could make it much easier to transmit.

That could explain why India is currently experiencing its worst outbreak of coronavirus since the pandemic began – something that has got increasingly concerned about the Indian strain becoming dominant.

So far there are at least 73 documented cases of the Indian strain in the UK.

There have also been multiple community transmissions, raising the prospect that not all incoming travellers with the virus were identified during their isolation period.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, told the Andrew Marr Show: "We have seen a couple of cases (of the Indian variant) that haven't arisen from travel but we're still trying to undergo the investigations to look in great detail at where they might have acquired it from.

"To escalate it up the ranking we need to know that it is increased transmissibility, increased severity or vaccine evading, and we just don't have that yet."

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

  • John Hall

    COVID TRIAL

    A NEW study will expose young volunteers to Covid for a second time to see how their body reacts.

    Researchers at the University of Oxford have launched the "human challenge" trial to look at what happens when someone who has recovered from Covid-19 infection is then re-exposed to the virus.

    They will aim to determine what dose of virus is needed to re-infect after natural infection, how the immune system responds, and what this may mean for developing protective immunity against the disease.

    The study, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust, is expected to start this month after receiving ethics approval.

    It will recruit people aged 18-30 who have previously been naturally infected with Covid-19.

  • John Hall

    INDIA RED LIST WARNING

    A HEALTH expert has warned India could be placed on the Government's travel "red list".

    Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said he expects travellers from India may need to stay in hotel quarantine when they return.

    Prof Altmann told Good Morning Britain: "At the moment, this particular variant (from India) is called a variant under investigation, not a variant of concern because it hasn't been escalated to that level yet.

    "My assumption from everything I've seen is that it will become a variant of concern.

    "When it becomes a variant of concern, I'd be quite surprised if India wasn't on the red list."

  • John Hall

    COVID KILLS MORE THAN 3M WORLDWIDE

    Coronavirus has killed at least 3,011,975 people since the outbreak emerged in China. according to a tally from official sources compiled by news agency AFP.

    At least 140,614,340 cases of coronavirus have been registered.

    The United States is the worst-affected country with 566,904 deaths from 31,628,017 cases.

    After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 371,678 deaths from 13,900,091 cases, Mexico with 212,228 deaths from 2,304,096 cases, India with 177,150 deaths from 14,788,109 cases, and Britain with 127,260 deaths from 4,385,938 cases.

  • John Hall

    'DON'T THROW IT AWAY NOW'

    Dr Hilary warned Brits to take care – as pub gardens reopened last week.

    He said many "think it's all over" – and argued "a lot of people were taking liberties in terms of taking risks" this weekend.

    "I don't want to be a killjoy but we still have people dying, cases rising in some areas and new variants," he said.

    "We've got so far compared to countries like India and Brazil.

    "Why would we want to throw it all away by abandoning very strict scientific guidance?"

  • John Hall

    HALF OF ALL US ADULTS GET JAB

    Good news from America, where half of all adults have now had at least one vaccine dose.

    From today, all over-18s will be eligible to get their shot.

    The US has been worst-hit globally by the pandemic.

    But other countries are struggling as cases soar.

    In India, authorities are scrambling to free up hospital beds and secure additional supplies of oxygen and treatment drugs as the vast nation reported a record daily caseload.

    HOLI-YAY

  • Patrick Joseph DUGGAN

    STARMER BARRED

    RED-FACED Sir Keir Starmer was today booted out of a Bath pub by its furious landlord after a row over Covid restictions.

    The Labour leader was turfed out of The Raven after trying to enter during a campaigning walkabout in the city centre.

    Landlord Rod Humphris appeared to be held back by bodyguards during the incident as he yelled: "That man is not allowed in my pub."

    During a street confrontation Mr Humphris, who says he has been "a Labour voter my entire life", can be heard saying he's "incandescent" with Sir Keir's performance.

    He tells him: "You have failed to be the opposition, you have failed to ask whether lockdown was functioning."

    In video of the incident the pub landlord can be heard making lockdown-sceptic arguments, and hands Sir Keir with a graph which he says shows that "the last time we had this much death was 2008".

    Read about the heated confrontation here.

  • John Hall

    COVID TESTS FOR HOLIDAYMAKERS (CONTINUED…)

    While holidays are yet to be given the go-ahead by the government, it is hoped that overseas travel will resume from May 17 through a traffic light system.

    Countries will be placed on green, amber or red lists depending on how high or low risk their Covid situation.

    However, even "green" countries, which will be able to skip quarantine, will require two tests when returning to the country.

    Last week testing firm Randox confirmed that they would be working with major UK airlines to allow travellers to pay just £60 per test instead of £120.

    They have already partnered with easyJet to offer the £60 PCR rests, while previously working with Thomas Cook to offer discounted tests for £85.

  • John Hall

    COVID TESTS FOR BRIT HOLIDAYMAKERS COULD FALL BELOW £50 IN NEW TREASURY PLANS

    Covid tests for British holidaymakers could fall below £50 in new plans considered by the Treasury, it has been revealed.

    The HMRC is looking to exempt private tests for summer holidaymakers from VAT – saving families hundreds of pounds.

    Gold standard PCR tests administered or overseen by a registered nurse will be exempt from VAT, the Telegraph reported.

    Senior sources told the media outlet that the Treasury could go further and full exempt the tests from the tax which can add 20 percent to the price which ranges from £60 to £300 per test.

    This means that holidaymakers could save roughly £40 and £240 for a family of four for a single test each.

    Read more here.

  • John Hall

    IRELAND CONFIRMS ONE COVID DEATH AND 269 NEW CASES ON SUNDAY

    One more death linked to Covid-19 was recorded in Ireland, the Department of Health said.

    Another 269 cases of the virus were confirmed on Sunday.

    Of the cases notified on Sunday 70% were in people under the age of 45.

    On Sunday morning there were 181 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including 47 in intensive care.

    There were six additional hospital admissions in the past 24 hours.

  • John Hall

    BEN SHEPHARD SAYS 'SUN SEEMS BRIGHTER' AS HE GETS COVID-19 JAB

    Ben Shephard has said the "sun seems a bit brighter" after he got his Covid-19 jab.

    The Good Morning Britain star, 46, revealed he got his first vaccination at the stadium of the Harlequins rugby club.

    He shared a photo on Instagram of himself getting the jab, and another of himself and his wife Annie wearing their stickers in the stadium.

    He wrote: "#JabbyMcjabface First one done! thanks to all the team @harlequins wonderfully efficient friendly staff, and a cracking setting too.

    "I'd say the sun seems a bit brighter today! #grateful."

  • John Hall

    US: HALF OF ALL ADULTS HAVE HAD AT LEAST ONE COVID VACCINE

    Half of all adults in the US have received at least one Covid-19 jab, the government announced Sunday.

    Almost 130 million people 18 or older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, or 50.4% of the total adult population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

    Almost 84 million adults, or about 32.5% of the population, have been fully vaccinated.

    The US reached the halfway mark just a day after the reported global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering three million, according to data released by Johns Hopkins University.

    However, the actual number is believed to be significantly higher.

  • John Hall

    MEXICO REPORTS 1,506 NEW CASES OF COVID-19 AND 111 MORE DEATHS

    Mexico's health ministry on Sunday reported 1,506 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 111 more fatalities.

    The new data brings Mexico's total to 2,305,602 infections and 212,339 deaths.

    The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher.

    Separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll is at least 60% above the confirmed figure.

  • John Hall

    BRAZIL REPORTS 42,980 NEW COVID CASES AND 1,657 DEATHS IN 24 HOURS

    Brazil recorded 42,980 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours.

    The South American nation also confirmed a further 1,657 Covid deaths, the Health Ministry said today.

    Brazil has registered more than 13.9 million cases since the pandemic began.

    The country's official death toll has risen to 373,335.

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