Foolish to move forward with full relaxation on June 21, behavior expert warns
Going forward with a full reopening later this month in England would be “silly” and a “major risk,” an expert has warned amid reports, a two-week delay in the planned easing of restrictions is considered.
There is currently enough evidence to say that due to the spread of the Indian variant, one of the government’s four key tests for its roadmap to exit the lockdown has not been met, Professor Stephen said. Reicher.
Several reports have suggested that plans to lift all restrictions on June 21 may be curtailed, with social distancing and face coverings set to continue as the variant that originated in India, now known as Delta, is fueling an increase in cases.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also suggest that the number of people infected with the virus in England has increased by around three-quarters in a week, taking it to its highest tally 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 ”.
He told the PA news agency: “I think by the government’s own benchmarks, it’s pretty clear that it would be foolish to continue on the data we have at the moment. The risk would be really great.
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 spokeswoman for the UK government said “no decision” had been made on easing all coronavirus restrictions on June 21, as Boris Johnson could delay the decision for at least a fortnight .
“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.”
Professor Reicher’s comments come as more surge testing is due to be rolled out to another part of the country amid the community spread of the Delta variant, with everyone aged 12 and over in some postcodes in Reading and Wokingham offered PCR testing from Monday.
She told BBC Breakfast: “If the variant spreads and becomes even bigger it can mutate again and the big concern is that the vaccines won’t work and that’s my big concern. “
Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the government advisory group of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modeling (Spi-M), said the government had a “tough call” to make to ease the restrictions on June 21.
He told Times Radio: “The predicament the government finds itself in is of course that 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 until the final stage of Boris Johnson’s roadmap will be used to speed up second jabs for those over 40 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 closing 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.
“Raising those second doses, increasing that number as high as possible is really important,” she told the BBC’s Newsnight.
Professor Anthony Harnden, vice-chair of the Joint Committee on Immunization (JCVI) said no decision on closing the dose gap for those over 40 had been made but was likely to be taken “in the coming weeks”.
He said closing the gap from 12 to eight weeks is a “trade-off between better short-term protection and better long-term protection.”
He told BBC Breakfast: “We will look at the vaccine supply for those under 50 and decide whether we need to move it forward, based on the prevalence of the variant that is circulating right now.”
The newspaper i said the revised roadmap plans would likely see the government backtracking to encourage a return to work, continue with advice for working from home if possible, and could also see the mask-wearing policy. social distancing on public transport Continue.
The newspaper also said social distancing in bars and restaurants should remain, along with audience limits in theaters and cinemas.
In Wales, Prime Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed he plans to keep social distancing restrictions in place for the remainder of 2021, calling the two-meter measurement “one of the strongest defenses we have “against the virus.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said maintaining social distancing would mean “June 21 is not the date of freedom at all”
She tweeted: “It means these companies continue to operate at a loss and threaten the long-term viability of businesses, jobs and the recovery.”
Analysis by the PA news agency shows that the majority of large hospital trusts in England currently continue to have no Covid-19 admissions on average despite the increase in the number of cases, with 50% of the population now fully vaccinated.