The Independent’s health correspondent answers your questions live

A meeting of scientific advisers last Thursday ended with a clear warning to government that the Indian variant could be 50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant which swept across the UK last year culminating in January’s deadly wave which saw more than 100,000 people admitted to hospital.

The latest step on England’s roadmap out of Coronavirus lockdown has gone ahead despite fears of a surge in cases caused by the Indian variant.

From Monday people are able to meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors, while six people or two households can meet indoors. Museums, cinemas and theatres are also welcoming back customers along with pubs and restaurants.

The re-opening comes with a warning from the prime minister to be cautious as fears for a new wave of coronavirus cases casts a shadow over the easing of restrictions.

While the UK’s vaccination programme is motoring ahead with more than 36 million people given a first dose and 20 million now fully vaccinated, there are still millions of people who have not been vaccinated at all.

The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) was clear that there remains enough unvaccinated people that the virus, if it escapes from the localised outbreaks we are currently seeing, could trigger an even worse surge.

But the vaccines do appear to work against the Indian variant, or at least reduced the severity of the disease. So the re-opening has gone ahead today.

What should you make of all this? What are your worries about the new variant and how it could affect the UK?

The Independent’s health correspondent Shaun Lintern has been reporting on Covid-19 from the very start of the pandemic and will be on hand to answer all your questions this afternoon.

All you have to do is register to submit your question in the comments below this article. If you’re not already a member, click “sign up” in the comments box to leave your question.

Don’t worry if you can’t see your question – they will be hidden until the conversation starts at 1pm today. Join in live on this page to take part.

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