The Indian variant is still under investigation in the UK, not yet a concern: Boris Johnson

LONDON: Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson he was forced on Tuesday to defend what has been widely called a delayed cancellation of a visit to India next week, linked to India’s addition to the “red list” of travel bans.
Addressing a briefing at 10 Downing Street in London, he said that the decision to add India to the red list was made by the Independent Joint Biosafety Center (JBC) as a precaution because the so-called Indian variant of Covid-19 has yet to be classified as a variant of concern.
He reiterated that the reason why 103 cases of the variant were quickly discovered in the UK is the result of already rather strict measures for all international travelers entering the country.
“The Indian variant is still just a variant under investigation, not a variant of concern,” he said, adding that experts are currently closely monitoring whether there is a sign that variant B.1.617 may “avoid the effect of the vaccine”.
The central topic of his briefing was the launch of new antivirus tools Work group, tasked with finding the most effective and fastest treatments for Covid-19, as he said the UK must learn to live with the disease once it is fully unlocked by the end of June.
“Now I don’t see anything in the data, which is why I think we will have to deviate in any way from the road map, the cautious but irreversible ones that we have set,” Johnson said.
“But most scientific opinion in this country still holds firm that there will be another Covid wave at some stage this year and that is why we must – as far as possible – learn to live with this disease, just as we live with another disease,” he said. .
The new working group will look for “the most promising new antiviral drugs” that can be taken at home and support their development through clinical trials to ensure that they can be delivered quickly to patients as early as the autumn months from September to October. The working group will also study the possibilities for onshore production of antiviral drugs.
“The success of our vaccination program has shown what the United Kingdom can achieve when we bring together our clearest minds. Our new antivirus task force will seek to develop innovative treatments you can take at home to stop Covid-19 on its way. They could provide another vital defense against any future increase in infections and save more lives, ”Johnson added.
The goal this year is to have at least two effective treatments, either in the form of tablets or capsules, that the public can take at home after a positive Covid-19 test or exposure to someone with the virus.
This has been described as another vital tool to combat any future increase in infections and limit the impact of new variants – especially during the annual flu season later this year.
“Following the success of the Vaccine and Therapy Working Groups, which played a crucial role in our response to the pandemic, we are now assembling a new team to complement the search for antiviral treatments and launch them as soon as autumn,” the UK said. Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Antiviral drugs can be used alone or in combination with each other to increase efficacy and reduce the risk of further mutations. The new working group will sit next to the government’s existing therapy working group, which will continue its work on identifying and providing treatments found to be effective in clinical trials, for all phases of patient exposure and response to Covid-19.
“Antiviral drugs in tablet form are another key response. They could help protect those who are not protected by vaccines or who are not acceptable to them. They could also be a second layer of defense against new concerned variants,” said Sir Patrick Vallance. , Government Chief Scientific Adviser.
The Department of Health and Welfare said the UK has proven to be a world leader in identifying and introducing effective treatments for Covid-19 – including the world’s first drug dexamethasone, which has saved 22,000 lives in the UK since then and is estimated at one million. around the world.