Chart of the Day 28 May 2021 How the Indian Covid variant has surged in England The variant now accounts for up to 75 per cent of new coronavirus cases. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images A sign directing people to a nearby vaccination centre is displayed on May 27, 2021 in Hounslow, England. Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up A new strain of Covid-19, first identified in India, is rapidly spreading across England, with the variant accounting for up to 75 per cent of new cases, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has said. Figures from Public Health England (PHE) show that the number of confirmed cases of the new strain in the UK nearly doubled in the week to 19 May – from 3,424 to 6,959. While the overall number of Covid-19 cases has remained generally stable as the new variant replaces the older B.1.1.7 strain, some areas, such as Bolton and Blackburn, have seen their case numbers surge in recent weeks. Despite PHE placing the variant under investigation on 1 April, it was not until 23 April that the UK government added India to its “red list” of countries with restricted travel. The emergence of the new strain has raised concerns over England’s plan to end all pandemic restrictions on 21 June, with Boris Johnson saying he doesn’t “see anything currently in the data to suggest we have to deviate from the roadmap, but we may need to wait”. A study by PHE found that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are still “highly effective” against the new variant, though both offer reduced protection after only one jab. › Robert Popper: How we made Friday Night Dinner Nicu Calcea is a data journalist at New Statesman Media Group Subscribe To stay on top of global affairs and enjoy even more international coverage subscribe for just £1 per month!