One of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's key aides, who caught Covid-19 on a failed trip to India in March to secure more AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII), sparked fears that he might have brought the deadly Indian variant into the UK and the heart of the British government.
David Quarrey, the UK PM's international affairs adviser and deputy national security adviser, tested positive a week after returning from India on 25 March, Times of India reported.
The SII delivered five million vaccine doses to the UK in early March but held back the next five million it had promised owing to the rising Covid-19 cases in India. It caused a temporary shortage of vaccines in Britain and led to the doomed trip.
Being a government representative, who was conducting essential state business outside of the UK, Quarrey was exempted from quarantine and testing requirements.
He took a pre-departure Covid test in India ahead of flying back to the UK on 25 March which was found to be negative. Later on 1 April, a week after his return, Quarrey received a message from NHS Test and Trace informing him that someone on the same flight had tested positive for Covid-19. Following that he took a coronavirus test the same day and was found to be positive.
He then went into self-isolation for 10 days.
Before being contacted by NHS Test and Trace, Quarrey had been in his office in Whitehall, including at 10, Downing Street.
Downing Street sought to play down fears he may have helped bring the 'Indian variant' of the virus into Britain and said that all his close contacts followed the correct procedures and self-isolated after he was found to be positive.
"Mr Quarrey followed the correct procedures on his return to the UK," a government spokesperson said.
His trip came ahead of the planned visit by Johnson this weekend, which was cancelled last week due to India's deadly second wave of the virus. Last March, Johnson was hospitalised with Covid and a string of ministers and government advisors had also caught it.