What is surge vaccination? Why extra Covid vaccine doses could be offered to control spread of Indian variant

The UK has seen a recent surge in the number of Covid cases of the Indian variant, with new measures potentially being brought into place to control it

New figures showed cases of the Indian coronavirus strain have more than doubled in a week, with data from Public Health England (PHE) finding a rise in cases from 520 to 1,313 this week in the UK.

But what new measure could be brought in to control the spread of the Indian variant, and could vaccination doses be brought closer together?

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The UK has seen a recent surge in the number of Covid cases of the Indian variant, with new measures potentially being brought into place to control it (Photo: Shutterstock)

Will the gap change between doses of the Covid vaccine?

The Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca Covid vaccines all require two doses to be administered, usually 11 or 12 weeks apart.

However, in a bid to control the Indian coronavirus variant, the gap between the two doses could be shortened.

A statement from the Department of Health and Social Care on Thursday night (13 May) said that ministers were considering bringing people’s second doses forward.

The statement also said: “We cannot rule out re-imposing economic and social restrictions at a local or regional level if evidence suggests they are necessary to contain or suppress a variant which escapes the vaccine.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the situation with the variant was being monitored carefully and the Government “will not hesitate to take further action if necessary”.

Will surge vaccination be brought into place?

Surge vaccination focuses extra doses of the vaccine to specific areas to immunise a larger section of the population.

This is currently being considered as one of the options to tackle the spread of the Indian variant.

In Bolton, which has one of the highest case rates of the variant in the country, a vaccine bus has been set up to increase uptake among those who are eligible.

A rapid response team of 100 nurses, public health advisers and environmental health officers has been sent in.

Alongside this, mobile testing units have been deployed and door-to-door PCR Covid testing has been offered to 22,000 residents.

Surge testing has also been put into place in Sefton, Merseyside, after cases of the Indian variant were confirmed in the Formby area.

Anyone over the age of 16 who lives, works or studies in the area is urged to take a PCR test.

Mr Hancock said: “We are monitoring the situation very carefully and will not hesitate to take further action if necessary.

“It is imperative we all continue to be vigilant, and if you live in one of the 15 areas where we’ve introduced surge testing, make sure you get a free PCR test.

“And everyone who’s eligible needs to come forward and get a jab.”