Ending of Covid restrictions on June 21 'uncertain' warns Government vaccine expert
A Government vaccine expert has warned that the ending of coronavirus restrictions in June is not a certainty and said that “life is not suddenly going to go back to normal” next month.
Professor Adam Finn from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, stressed that even if restrictions end on June 21, life ‘won’t be really normal until the virus is brought under control.’
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Professor Finn said: “I think there are uncertainties around the situation at the moment. I think, in a way, there’s been uncertainties all the way along.
“It’s always been a sort of provisional timetable and it has to be, or may have to be, adjusted according to events as they occur.
“When we get to June, whatever happens on that date, this global pandemic will not be over. It will still be going on.
“There’ll still be cases going on in this country, through Europe and around the world, so life is not suddenly going to go back to normal in June, because life won’t be really normal until this is brought under control.
“Life’s going towards normal but it’s not normal yet.”
It comes as latest figures from a Public Health England (PHE) study found that vaccines ‘offer high levels of protection against Indian variant.’
The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is 88% effective against the Indian variant after two doses, according to the study which took place between April 5 and May 16.
Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs were found to be almost as effective against symptomatic disease from the B1617.2 strain as they are against the Kent variant after the second dose.
However, they were only 33% effective three weeks after the first dose.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the outcome as “groundbreaking”, while PHE said it expects to see even higher levels of effectiveness against hospital admission and death.
Mr Hancock said: “This new evidence is groundbreaking and proves just how valuable our Covid-19 vaccination programme is in protecting the people we love.
“We can now be confident that over 20 million people – more than one in three – have significant protection against this new variant, and that number is growing by the hundreds of thousands every single day as more and more people get that vital second dose.”
Latest figures show that more than 50 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have now been given in England.
Analysis by PHE indicates that the vaccination programme has so far prevented 13,000 deaths and about 39,100 hospital admissions in older people in England, up to May 9.
Data from PHE shows there have been at least 2,889 cases of the Indian variant recorded in England from February 1 this year to May 18.
Of those, 104 cases resulted in a visit to a hospital emergency department, 31 required an overnight hospital admission and six resulted in a death.
The most common strain in England, according to the data, is the Kent variant, with 132,082 cases recorded over the same period.
Some 1,569 people have died with the variant, while 2,011 cases resulted in an overnight hospital admission and 5,238 required a visit to a hospital emergency department.