PM says 21 June decision rests on effectiveness of vaccine rollout – as UK daily cases highest in months
The prime minister says the effectiveness of the vaccine rollout will determine whether the 21 June lockdown lifting can go ahead – as the UK reported the highest number of daily COVID cases in four months.
Another 7,540 coronavirus infections were recorded in the latest 24-hour period – the most since 26 February.
Boris Johnson said: “Everyone can see very clearly… that cases are going up, and in some places hospitalisations are going up.”
Referring to so-called “freedom day” on 21 June, he said the government had to assess how much the vaccine rollout had “built up enough protection in the population in order for us to go ahead to the next stage”.
“That’s what we’ll be looking at and there are arguments being made one way or the other, but we’ll be driven by the data and be looking at that and we’ll be setting it out on Monday.”
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Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling was key to the first lockdown, said his assessment was based on new data submitted to the government.
But he also said it suggested a third wave may not be as severe as the previous spike in winter.
Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “Basically it (the modelling) is saying there is a risk of a substantial third wave, (but) we cannot be definitive about the scale of that – it could be substantially lower than the second wave or it could be of the same order of magnitude.
“That, critically, depends on how effective the vaccines still are protecting people against hospitalisation and death against the Delta (Indian) variant, as well as a few other unknowns.”
The data was compiled by SPI-M – a subgroup of government advisory body SAGE.