‘Folish’ to move forward with June 21 reopening, expert warns
initiating a full reopening in England later this month would be “silly” and a “major risk”, an expert has warned.
There is currently enough evidence to show that one of the government’s four key tests for its roadmap to exit lockdown has not been met, according to Professor Stephen Reicher.
This is due to the spread of the Indian variant, he said.
Several reports suggest that plans to lift all restrictions on June 21 could be curtailed, with face masks and social distancing set to continue.
Concerns that the variant originating in India, now known as Delta, is fueling an increase in cases.
The UK on Friday recorded its highest number of new confirmed coronavirus cases – 6,238 – since the end of March, according to official figures.
Saturday’s figure was down slightly to 5,765 laboratory-confirmed cases.
This is the highest tally in the country since mid-April, with an R-value between 1 and 1.2.
Professor Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviors (Spi-B) which advises the government, said the criteria for the current risk assessment not being fundamentally changed by new variants of concern were “not respected ”.
“I think by the government’s own benchmarks, it’s pretty clear that it would be foolish to continue with the data we have at the moment,” he said.
“The risk would be really great. And of course it’s a balance of risks but I think it would be a major risk to go further in the opening.
He added: “Again, I emphasize that this is data and not dates, and if you overdo it with dates, you put yourself in a corner and I think that’s what the government did. “
A UK government spokeswoman said “no decision” had been made on easing all coronavirus restrictions on June 21, as Boris Johnson could delay the decision for at least two weeks .
“As the prime minister said, we see nothing in the data at the moment that suggests we need to deviate from the roadmap,” the spokesperson said.
“We are continuing to review the data and the latest scientific evidence and no decision on Step 4 has yet been made.”
All people aged 12 and over in some Reading and Wokingham postcodes offered PCR testing from Monday.
Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the government’s pandemic influenza science advisory group on modeling, said the government had a “tough call” to make to ease restrictions on June 21.
He told Times Radio: “The predicament the government finds itself in is of course if you delay this you will of course get a smaller subsequent wave.”
But he added, “Of course, if you delay this, we know it has a negative impact on businesses, people’s livelihoods, etc.
Hospitality chiefs have already raised concerns about the delay in lifting restrictions, saying it could threaten the viability of the sector.
Sacha Lord, night economics advisor for Greater Manchester, called June 21 a ‘pass or break’ date for many and vowed he was ‘ready to fight’ over a possible change in schedule. .
According to the Telegraph, a two-week delay to the final stage of Boris Johnson’s roadmap will be used to speed up second jabs for those over 40, going from a 12-week gap to eight weeks between doses, echoing the practice already in force. place for over 50s.
Those over 25 will also be offered their first doses from next week, according to the newspaper.
This is because laboratory data from the Francis Crick Institute supported a policy of reducing the gap between jabs.
The study found that after a single dose of the Pfizer jab, people are less likely to develop antibody levels against the Indian variant (B.1.617.2) as high as those seen against the previously dominant Kent variant, who was nicknamed Alpha.