Replying to a question asked by India-origin Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi in Parliament to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on Monday, the UK government confirmed they do not know whether the UK's vaccination programme will be effective against the Indian Covid-19 variant.
"We are acting on a precautionary basis because I can't give him that assurance. And, of course, we are looking into that question as fast as possible. But that is the core of my concern about the variant first found in India. Is that the vaccines may be less effective, in terms of transmission and/or in terms of reducing hospitalisation and death.
"It is the same concern that we have with the variant found in South Africa and is the core reason why we took this decision today, said Hancock.
This follows India being placed on the 'red list' for travel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelling his trip to the country.
Dhesi asked: "The Prime Minister cancelled his India trip and the government just announced that India has been placed on its travel 'red list', amid devastating surge in Covid cases there. But Health Secretary is still unsure if our vaccines are effective against the new double mutation variant detected there."
The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported that a "new double mutant variant" of the coronavirus has been found in India.
It has been named a 'Desi' (Indian) variant.