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More information needed ASAP on risk posed by Covid variant

by James Hacker
14 May 2021

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The Government should provide NHS organisations with robust information on the risk posed against the health service by a Covid variant first identified in India, NHS Providers has said.

Commenting on the increase in cases of a Covid-19 variant first identified in India (B1.617.2), Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said that the service needs ‘as much help as possible from the Government’.

He said that trusts would benefit from a ‘robust and aligned view of the risk the NHS faces here’, delivered by the Government ‘as fast as they can’.

Data published yesterday (14 May) by Public Health England showed that the number of cases of the variant has more than doubled, from 520 last week to 1,313 this week.

The majority of cases are in the North West of England, particularly Bolton, with some in London.

Mr Hopson said that a risk assessment requested will need to be based on transmission data, geographic spread, vaccine uptake, and vaccine efficacy in relation to the variant.

He added: ‘Given the combination of potentially lower vaccine efficacy, seemingly much faster transmission of the virus and the fact that many people are still unvaccinated, there is a risk that this variant could lead to a large group of people becoming ill with Covid-19 putting significant pressure on the NHS once more.’

‘Trust leaders need this risk assessment as soon as possible so they can plan accordingly,’ he said.

Management in Practice’s sister title Pulse reported today that Government actions to curb the spread include additional surge testing in 15 areas, increased genomic sequencing and enhanced contact tracing.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said that the Government has sent additional vaccine doses to Bolton.


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