Coronavirus in Scotland: Lockdown restrictions easing is ‘potentially problematic’ if the Indian variant is highly transmissible says Linda Bauld

Professor Linda Bauld says that the lockdown restrictions easing is ‘potentially problematic’ if the Indian variant is more transmissible than others we have seen in Scotland so far.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland Professor Bauld of the University of Edinburgh, said we don’t know precise numbers of the Indian variant in Scotland but that last week there were 35 recorded and it is likely that that figure is higher now.

She said that variant is one of concern for three reasons – transmissibility, ability to evade vaccines and the potential to be a disease of more severity.

She said: "It is certainly as transmissible as the B117 and very likely more so. In fact it may be up to 40 to 50 per cent more transmissible.

"Now if it’s 20-30 per cent more transmissible, it’s concerning but not a huge worry but if it’s more than that it is problematic, particularly at a time when we are opening up.

"Households are mixing and you can see from the latest modelling report from the Scottish government that average contacts - in other words people coming into contact with people outside of their households – of course has increased in recent weeks.”

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However, with just over 60 people currently in hospital with Covid-19, Prof Bauld said that’s “huge progress from even where we were just a few weeks ago.”

Hospitality venues can serve alcohol indoors as part of restrictions easing across most of mainland Scotland on Monday.

She said: "We think from all the studies, including studies in Scotland that the vaccines are breaking that trajectory between cases and people going into hospital.

"But there is a lag, and it is fairly recent that we’ve seen these rises, so that’s why efforts have been made – not just for testing, identifying those cases and supporting people to self-isolate – but also making vaccines more available to younger age groups in those hot spots and I think that’s proportionate.”

She went on to say that even though the first dose of the vaccine doesn’t kick in for two weeks it is important – particularly in Glasgow and Moray – that the vaccines are delivered to young people as soon as possible because “even in the face of different variants we don’t have any evidence that the vaccine will not protect against severe disease.”

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