Members of SAGE are out in force today, warning the Prime Minister that Britain should not unlock on June 21st because of the risk posed by the Indian Covid variant. Professor Neil Ferguson said on Wednesday that this strain could result in restrictions needing to be “tightened“, despite the recent increase in Covid cases not being matched by an increase in deaths. Following further pressure from other members of the advisory group today, the Prime Minister has said that Number 10 may have to “wait” for more data before pushing ahead with ending the lockdown. The MailOnline has more.
Top scientists have called for Downing Street to delay next month’s lockdown-easing because of the spread of [the Indian variant], which has been found in half of England’s 300-plus local authorities.
SAGE member Professor John Edmunds said he would advise Boris Johnson not to take the next step as planned because “at the moment it looks a little bit risky”.
Meanwhile, fellow adviser “Professor Lockdown” Neil Ferguson warned the plans to ease restrictions hang “in the balance”. He said the now-dominant strain would trigger a “small third wave” but that the next two or three weeks would be “critical” in deciding whether it was safe to move to step four on the roadmap.
But one of the Government’s top scientists today hailed “encouraging” data that showed hospitalisations remain low despite cases having ticked up in every region except the East Midlands. However, Dr Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England’s Medical Director, said they have risen slightly and that they were “concerned” about the Indian variant.
Discussing the threat of the Indian variant during a visit to a hospital in Colchester this morning, Mr Johnson said: “As I have said many times I don’t see anything currently in the data to suggest that we have to deviate from the road map. But we may need to wait.
“Don’t forget the important point about the intervals between the steps of the road map, we put that five weeks between those steps to give us time to see what effect the unlockings are having.”
Mr Hancock admitted he “desperately” wanted to proceed with plans to drop the final set of lockdown restrictions next month but ministers would only do that “if it’s safe”. He will address the nation tonight in a 5pm Downing Street press conference.
In a statement that suggested lockdown could continue until every man and his dog has been vaccinated, the Health Secretary said: “Our vaccination programme has reached 73% of the adult population, but that means that more than a quarter still haven’t been jabbed.”
43% of adults have had both jabs, but that means that more than half are yet to get the fullest possible protection that two jabs give.
Worth reading in full.