On Saturday, Public Health England (PHE) said two shots of Covid-19 vaccine were nearly as effective against B.1.617.2 as they were against the Kent variant, which Hancock said at the time increased his confidence that restrictions would be lifted next month.
A coronavirus variant first found in India is spreading across Britain and it is too soon to say whether Covid-19 restrictions can be fully lifted on June 21, health minister Matt Hancock said today.
The update gave information on the four mutations classed as variants of concern: those first reported in Britain (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351), Brazil (P.1) and India (B.1.617).
World Health Organization has declared B.1.617 as a "variant of concern" and the update noted that this variant has increased transmissibility, disease severity is "under investigation", risk of reinfection is?under investigation, possible modest reduction in neutralization activity (B.1.617.1).
According to it, B.1.617.1 is found in 41 countries, B.1.617.2 in 54 countries and B.1.617.3 in six.
Globally over the past week, the number of new cases and deaths from COVID-19 continued to decrease, with around 4.1 million new cases and 84,000 new deaths reported - a 14 percent and two percent decrease respectively compared to the previous week.
The numbers of cases reported by the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Africa, and the Western Pacific region were similar to those reported in the previous week.
"Despite a declining global trend over the past four weeks, incidence of COVID-19 cases and deaths remain high, and substantial increases have been observed in many countries throughout the world", the document said.
The WHO split up figures for the B.1.617 variant into three lineages (B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3).
Together, lineages of the B.1.617 variant were officially recorded in 53 territories and unofficially in another seven.
Hancock also said that 10 per cent of people hospitalised with the new variant had been double vaccinated - a sign that vaccines work well, but not perfectly.
"Virus evolution is expected, and the more SARS-CoV-2 circulates, the more opportunities it has to evolve", the report said.