Parts of East Lancashire have seen an outbreak of the Covid-19 variant first identified in India, which is known as variant B.1.617.2. Last week, it was declared a “variant of concern” by Public Health England (PHE) after scientific studies found it may be more easily passed from one person to another. There are only a small number of confirmed cases in Burnley at this time.
There is no evidence yet that this variant is inherently more deadly than the Kent variant which was in high circulation previously, but again scientists would like better data to examine this. The main concern is that the variant causes infections to spread faster, which could lead to a larger third wave of disease and more hospitalisations and deaths.
Research is underway to establish how well current vaccines fight the variant. But most scientists remain confident that the current vaccines would protect against severe symptoms and death.
It is brilliant news that we are coming out of lockdown. But as things start to open up, please follow the existing guidance: wash hands, continue to cover your face, make space, and meet people in the fresh air if you can. Most importantly, if you have been invited to do so, please get the vaccine. Please keep safe.