A leading epidemiologist has warned that the expected delay to the final stages of easing restrictions in England for a month may have to be extended further.
Boris Johnson is set to announce later today that the final stages of restrictions could last for another month, leaving some senior Ministers worried that these measures could last until spring next year.
Professor Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh warned that there have been deaths with people who have had both doses of the vaccine.
Professor Woolhouse said, “We will know more about the UK government’s expectations of the size of any new wave when the epidemiological modelling is published later today.
“However, there are several points of concern about the current situation:
- Number of cases are increasing rapidly;
- Numbers of hospitalisations are very low but they are increasing slowly, as would be expected in the earliest stages of a large wave;
- Hospitalisations and deaths are occurring in people who have had one and even two doses of vaccine and, though the rates remain low, if there were a large wave this could add up to a significant public health problem – a small percentage of a very large number is still a large number.
“Nor do we yet know the government’s expectations of the situation in one month’s time. It is possible that there will not have been a positive change in the trajectory of the epidemic, in which case it could be hard to justify removing restrictions at that time too.
“If a new wave does materialise then it may not peak for several weeks more (unless some restrictions are re-imposed, which would be contrary to current government policy), implying the possibility of further delay.”
Conservative MP, Sir Charles Walker fears that further lockdowns could be ahead which will persist and tighten “into the autumn and winter.” , when asked if he would vote against any delay to the final lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in England.
The vice chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, was asked by BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme will he vote against any delay to the lifting of lockdown.
Sir Charles said, “So I just have an overwhelming sense of pessimism now.
“If you can’t lift restrictions at the height of summer, and we are in the height of summer, then you almost certainly are looking at these restrictions persisting and tightening into the autumn and winter.
“I don’t think the 19 July date will be met. If it is, it will be met for weeks before we enter further lockdowns.”
Senior politicians warned the Telegraph that summer will provide a very short window to open up the country.
One unnamed senior Minister told the newspaper, “I am very worried the people who want to keep us shut down now want us to keep us shut down permanently and are aiming for ‘zero Covid’.”
Senior Tories, including “several ministers” believe there will be even more calls by mid July to keep the final stage of easing in place by scientists as there will be more cases.
A senior Conservative MP told the Telegraph, “I just don’t buy that in four weeks time it will somehow look completely different and the scientists will say, it’’s fine, you crack on’.”