The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) will hold a meeting today over the concerning rise in cases of the Covid-19 Indian variant.

The meeting could have huge ramifications in the UK as scientists fear the rise of the variant could delay Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.

A member of Sage said a “delay is possible” to the UK’s plans to end lockdown when speaking to the i newspaper.

Scientists are keeping a close eye on the spread of the Indian variant across the UK, but there are currently no signs that infection is leading to rising hospital admissions, experts have said.

Professor Steven Riley, from Imperial College London, said that whether the road map for England continues on its planned trajectory was “a Government decision” but suggested the UK was currently in a good place, although variants were being watched.

Milford Mercury: Daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK. (PA Graphics)Daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK. (PA Graphics)

He told Times Radio: “I think there’s two key things that have got to be kind of evaluated – if infections go up, how quickly will they go up? But then after that, are they linked to the hospitalisations?

“The top-line Government policy is driven by protecting the NHS, so even if infection starts to go up, we then need to assess whether that’s bringing a lot of new cases into hospitals, and there’s certainly no sign of that at the moment.”

Three types of the Indian variant have been identified in the UK, one of which is a variant of concern.

On Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency said it was “pretty confident” that vaccines currently in use will be effective against the Indian variant – a view echoed by some British scientists.

However, Professor James Naismith from the University of Oxford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that not enough was known to be sure of the vaccine’s response to the new variant.

He said: “The vaccines don’t 100% prevent infection for people, what they do is, they almost 100% prevent hospitalisation and serious illness.

“We don’t know enough to know yet whether the Indian strain will behave differently than that.”

He added: “I think we should view it as a country-wide problem.

“It will get everywhere. We keep learning this lesson, but we know that this will be the case.”