Fears of 3rd Covid wave as Indian strain ‘spreads 60% faster than Kent variant’

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A third wave of the coronavirus may already be spreading throughout the UK, as cases of the Indian variant continue to rise.

The new strain, identified as B1617.2, has already been classified as a variant of concern by the Government.

Cases increased to 520 from 202 over the past week, Public Health England said in figures released on May 7.

Professor Tom Wenseleers, a biologist and biostatistician from KU Leuven University in Belgium, analysed the strain and compared it to the other mutation which led to skyrocketing infection rates in Kent.

He tweeted: “The Indian data estimates that B.1.617.2 has a 10% per day growth (advantage) over B.1.1.7 (translates to a ~60% transmission advantage).”

University College London mathematician Professor Christina Pagel earlier said the Indian strain could be “outcompeting” the Kent variant.

On Tuesday, May 11, 2,427 new coronavirus cases were reported in the UK.

Professor Paul Hunter, from the Norwich School of Medicine at the University of East Anglia, said: “That is a 27% increase on the number of cases report last Tuesday and means that in the last seven days there have been 15,895 cases reported which is a 12% increase on the previous seven-day period.

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“This represents the largest week-on-week increase since early January. Fortunately, as yet there is no sign that hospitalisations have started to increase in the UK.

“There has been a lot of debate about when and if a further wave of infection will happen in the UK. The reports of today suggest that this wave may have already begun.

“That hospitalisations have yet to increase would be consistent with the view that the vaccine is still effective at reducing the risk of severe disease and gives hope that this new wave, if it indeed continues, will be less damaging to the NHS.”

The original India variant, B.1.617, was first detected in October, but PHE has categorised three different subtypes, all with slightly different mutations.

Other variants of concern include variants first identified in Kent, southeast England, as well as South Africa and Brazil.

Two weeks ago, India was added to Britain's travel "red list", meaning travellers have to quarantine in special hotels.

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But the move, which came in on April 23, was announced on April 19, giving travellers notice if they wanted to change plans and beat the hotel quarantine.

India yesterday announced nearly 350,000 new coronavirus cases and more than 4,000 deaths.

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