Warnings Indian Covid variant could ‘scupper’ PM’s roadmap blasted as 'a bit pessimistic'

Imperial College’s Danny Altmann issued a stark warning on Friday about a new variant first registered in India that could potentially “give us a third wave.” He told BBC Radio 4’s PM “we should be terribly concerned” and pointed out that India should be added to the red travel list to avoid its spread and a potential delay to the Government’s plans to reopen the economy.

But member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) Professor Adam Finn said the theory was “a bit pessimistic”.

Prof Finn told Times Radio: “We’ve all expected evolution of this virus to occur from the start.

“I also think that we know from other viruses and previous experience that the immunity that vaccines give won’t just disappear.

“It will be a gradual erosion. It won’t be back to square one. I would be really surprised if that happened.

“So, I think, possibly, that interpretation is a bit pessimistic.”

His remarks come after a Downing Street spokesman confirmed that prime Minister Boris Johnson’s trip to India later this month would still go ahead despite the concerns raised.

He told reporters: “The Prime Minister’s visit is still happening later this month.

“We have said that the programme will be slightly shorter than it will have been, and you can expect the main body of his programme to take place on Monday April 26.

“As you would expect, safety is obviously important and is a priority for us on this trip, which is why we will make sure that all elements of the visit are Covid-secure.”

Britain’s jab rollout continues at pace, with new guidance issued by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) claiming current rates of vaccination suggest that those aged 35 to 39 could be offered a jab in the second half of May.

Those over 45 have already began receiving vaccination offers in the UK after a successful rollout for over-50s.

People aged between 30 and 35 could then be offered the jab by the end of May or in early June.

Those aged 25 to 29 would see offers through June, with 18 to 24-year-olds contacted by July at the latest.

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