The line from health officials on the chance of lockdown ending on June 21st has shifted from “close to nil” to “looking very good” in less than a week. Dr Jenny Harries, the Chief Executive of the U.K. Health Security Agency, says she is “increasingly confident” about the effectiveness of vaccines against the Indian Covid variant. The Telegraph has the story.
She told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the possibility of lifting all Covid restrictions next month was “looking good” as long as people acted with caution, particularly in areas battling new variants.
Dr Harries said data up to May 19th showed that only six patients had died from the Indian variant, of whom “the vast majority” had not been vaccinated and were elderly.
While the deaths were obviously sad for those involved, the data was “looking very good” in showing the impact of Britain’s vaccine rollout, she said.
“At the moment, we’re not seeing reductions in effectiveness in serious disease, or deaths, and in fact I think we’ve been increasingly confident that that will be the case,” she added.
Increases in hospitalisations normally follow around two weeks after surges in cases, with deaths two weeks later, but Dr Harries said that, while it was “early days”, the signs were encouraging.
Asked about hospitalisations, she said: “Fortunately we’re not seeing much” so far, stressing that this data would come through more slowly.
Asked about the prospect of releasing restrictions next month, she said: “It’s looking good if people are continuing to observe all of the safety signals, so we should not stop doing what we’re doing, particularly in areas where we have that variant of concern, the B1617.2, in the North-West and around London.
“It’s really important that people continue to do hands, face, space and work from home, have their jabs and go for tests as well.
“The cases of the B1617.2 variant are rising, they have risen very steeply and much of the media have reported a 160% rise in cases over the week period but they seem to be slightly levelling at the moment.”
The Prime Minister says he will announce whether or not lockdown will end on June 21st “by the end of the month”.
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