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Boris Johnson has warned that we could 'face some hard choices' if the Indian coronavirus variant is 'significantly more transmissible'.
Speaking at a press conference today the PM said the variant could 'pose a serious disruption' to plans to ease restrictions and 'could make it more difficult' to end them as hoped in June.
The Prime Minister told the Downing Street press conference: "I do not believe that we need, on the present evidence, to delay our road map and we will proceed with our plan to move to step three in England from Monday.
"But I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move to step four in June and I must again stress we will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe.
"Our surveillance and data gathering is now so advanced, that if there was a danger of the NHS coming under unsustainable pressure we would see the signs in the data very early on and could react in good time, and that gives us the confidence to continue moving forwards for now.
"But I urge everyone to exercise the greatest caution because the choices we each make in the coming days will have a material effect on the road ahead."
He went on: "We believe this variant is more transmissible than the previous one - in other words it passes more easily from person to person - but we don't know by how much.
"I am told that if it's only marginally more transmissible, we can continue more or less as planned.
"But if the virus is significantly more transmissible, we are likely to face some hard choices.
"We are going to be learning a lot more in the coming days and weeks about that.
"The good news is that so far we have no evidence to suggest our vaccines will be less effective in protecting people against severe illness and hospitalisation."
Johnson has said vaccinations will be 'accelerated' for some groups, adding: "Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, we will accelerate remaining second doses to the over 50s and those clinically vulnerable right across the country so they are just eight weeks after the first dose, and if you are in this group the NHS will be in touch with you.
"We will also prioritise first doses for anyone eligible who has not yet come forwards including the over 40s - and I urge anyone in those groups to come forwards as soon as you can."
Topics: UK News