Lockdown UK: Social Distancing Could Remain in Place Until End of 2021

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04: A social distancing sign hangs on a primary school gate in the Borough of Lewisham on January 04, 2021 in London, England. Primary schools across London and southeast England will remain closed to most pupils until January 18th, and secondary schools in England will stagger …
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The United Kingdom’s social distancing regulations may need to remain in place throughout the entirety of 2021 if vaccines for the Chinese coronavirus are not at least 85 per cent effective, government scientists have warned.

A paper commissioned by SPI-M, a subgroup of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) quango, claimed that Britain will face a third wave of the coronavirus if vaccinations do not substantially reduce the rate of transmission.

The report, seen by The Telegraph, says: “Only vaccines that offer high infection-blocking efficacy with high uptake in the general population allow relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions without a huge surge in deaths.”

“While the novel vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 offer a potential exit strategy for this outbreak, this is highly contingent on the infection-blocking (or transmission-blocking) action of the vaccine and the population uptake, both of which need to be carefully monitored as vaccine programmes are rolled out in the UK and other countries,” it continued.

Under the best-case scenario laid out by the modellers at the University of Warwick, in which vaccines are able to halt 85 per cent of transmission from those vaccinated, then to prevent a spike in deaths lockdown measures would need to remain in effect until the end of May — more than one year after the first lockdown was introduced in England.

If vaccines provide a 60 per cent drop in transmission, then lockdown measures will need to be replaced with the social distancing regime similar to that which was in place in September, with large gatherings still prohibited until the end of 2021.

The scientists told government ministers that should Boris Johnson lift lockdown measures in mid-February, the country could see another spike of infections and a similar amount of deaths to those witnessed during the first wave in April of 2020.

Britain’s recently installed vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi MP, said: “We’re probably another four weeks away from getting some of that data back but it should be able to then allow us to make plans… we’ll be able to see the impact of vaccines on transmission and also on hospitalisation and serious infection.”

A government spokesman said: “At this early stage in the vaccination programme, scientists do not have sufficient data to advise how the vaccine may affect onward transmission.

“As large numbers of people from at-risk groups are vaccinated, we will be able to gather the evidence to assess the impact on infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths. It’s important to continue following the national restrictions, instructions from NHS Test and Trace and to self-isolate if you are instructed to do so, even if you have had the vaccine.”

Boris Johnson’s government has to date given mixed messages as to when lockdown measures will finally be lifted, with some projections pointing to late spring or early summer.

Last week, Breitbart London reported that the government has “quietly” extended the lockdown powers of local councils until July.

In response to the extension of lockdown powers, London mayoral candidate David Kurten said: “The Johnson Regime has again ‘quietly changed the law’ to extend lockdown powers to 17th July. The unnecessary destruction of our civil liberties and economy will never end until the people end it. I support the Great Reopening.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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