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Delta variant '40% more transmissible': United Kingdom health minister

Delta variant '40% more transmissible': United Kingdom health minister”

"That means that it is more hard to manage this virus with the new Delta variant", Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News, referring to the Indian strain by its formal designation.

Britain's health secretary on Sunday said a coronavirus variant first detected in India was roughly 40 percent more transmissible than the so-called United Kingdom strain blamed for a severe COVID-19 outbreak over the winter. "That means that it is more hard to manage this virus with the new Delta variant, but crucially we believe that with two doses of the vaccine you get the same protection as the old variant", Mr Hancock told "Sky News".

"Everybody must go and get their second jab though because the first isn't as effective on its own".

"I think since everybody is going to be able to get the vaccination, other than those who for medical reasons can't, I think it really is important that people are encouraged to get vaccinated", he told the Andrew Marr Show.

Matt Hancock, in what will be viewed as the clearest indication yet that the target date for lifting all restrictions could slip, stressed that June 21 was a "not before" date and that it was only "pencilled in" as the next step out of lockdown.

"So the good news is that the vaccine still works just as effectively".

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"So ultimately it does make the calculation more hard for June 21 but it doesn't change our strategy which is we all need to go and get vaccinated and that way we will break this link between the number of cases to the number of hospitalisations".

British Health Minister Matt Hancock on Sunday conceded it was too early to say whether the government would stick to its plan to scrap masks and social distancing.

"The way we are looking at this is step four [of the roadmap] involves the removing of the remaining social restrictions like the rule of six and some of the business closures which are still there". So far hospitalisations are "broadly flat", with very few hospitalised after receiving both vaccine doses, he added.

New cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have dropped dramatically since the United Kingdom began its vaccination campaign.

The drive to roll out vaccines to every adult by the end of July is continuing at pace as the Health Secretary announced those aged under 30 will be invited to book for their first dose this week.



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