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Coronavirus vaccines are "almost certainly less effective" at reducing transmission of the Indian variant, one of the UK's top experts has warned.
The deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), Professor Anthony Harnden, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The vaccines may be less effective against mild disease but we don't think they're less effective against severe disease.
"But in combination with being less effective against mild disease, they're almost certainly less effective against transmission."
The UK will accelerate its vaccination programme to fight the Indian variant of coronavirus, Prime Minister Bois Johnson announced on Friday.
Gaps between first and second doses will be shortened to eight weeks, and first doses will also be prioritised for those who are eligible but have yet to receive a jab.
And Professor Harnden also defended the approach of bringing forward second jabs rather than speeding up the rollout to younger people.
Professor Harnden told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that targeting more vulnerable people with full immunity is a “better strategy”.
He said: “The reason we think this is if we immunise 18-29 year olds, for instance, in these areas we’ll be taking vaccines from somebody else in the country.
“The vaccines may be less effective against transmission and immunity takes a number of weeks to develop, so it’s not a very good strategy for preventing transmission, what we want is to prevent disease.
“From a vaccination strategy it just won’t help mass-vaccinating a number of young people at the expense of older people who haven’t been vaccinated.”
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the UK will continue to take the next step towards freedom on Monday despite the new Indian coronavirus variant threatening "serious disruption" to the roadmap.
However, he has not ruled out that the strain could prevent the UK from achieving its plan for a full reopening next month on June 21.
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