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UK records 7 deaths and 2,027 coronavirus cases as mass vaccine drive gets underway

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<p>People queuing for vaccinations in Bolton</p> (PA Wire)

People queuing for vaccinations in Bolton

(PA Wire)

The UK has recorded seven deaths and 2,027 new Covid cases as a mass vaccination drive in Bolton gets underway.

Although case numbers are low there is concern the Indian variant is spreading fast in some areas in the north west.

Bolton has become a hotspot for the new variant. which now makes up the majority of its new cases.

As of yesterday, Bolton’s infection rate is the highest in the country at 192 cases per 100,000 people.

Councillor Andy Morgan shared a Tweet inviting Britons of all ages to “visit the vaccine bus” if they live in the area and are registered with a local GP.

He said the team of medics “will find a reason to vaccinate you” before closing time at 5pm.

The 4,000 jabs at the pop-up centre must be used before the end of the day, the councillor for Heaton and Lostock added.

Public Health England data shows a rise in cases of the Indian variant of concern from 520 to 1,313 this week in the UK.

One expert said on Saturday that vaccines will still protect people against the new strain but are probably less effective against transmission.

Professor Anthony Harden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the jabs would still offer protection against severe disease.

“The vaccines may be less effective against mild disease but we don’t think they’re less effective against severe disease,” he said.

“But in combination with being less effective against mild disease, they’re almost certainly less effective against transmission.”

The Boris Johnson warned on Friday the variant could cause “serious disruption” to plans to ease the lockdown and may delay the planned ending of all legal restrictions on June 21.

He announced that second doses will be sped up for older age groups in affected areas.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) concluded there is a “realistic possibility” the strain is 50% more transmissible than the one that emerged in Kent.

If this turns out to be the case moving to step three of the road map out of lockdown could “lead to a substantial resurgence of hospitalisations” that is “similar to, or larger than, previous peaks,” the experts said.

The Army is to be deployed in the Greater Manchester town and Blackburn with Darwen to help with mass testing.

Mr Johnson has said people aged over 50 and the clinically vulnerable will have their second doses of a Covid vaccine accelerated.

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