Lockdown 4? Boris Johnson Claims Lockdowns Brought Down Corona Deaths, Not Vaccines

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 12: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute For Experimental Medicine, Queen's University on March 12, 2021 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The UK Prime Minister continues to tour the UK witnessing the Coronavirus vaccine roll-out programme and pupils returning to …
Peter Morrison - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed on Tuesday that Britain’s success in driving down coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations came as a result of the draconian lockdowns imposed on the country and not the massive vaccination push.

Speaking to reporters at 10 Downing Street, Mr Johnson said that while the vaccination programme has “helped” in slowing the spread of the Chinese virus, he said that “the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown.”

“People don’t, I think, appreciate that it’s the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement in the pandemic and in the figures that we’re seeing,” the PM said.

“So, as we unlock, the result will inevitably be that we will see more infection, sadly we will see more hospitalisation and deaths, and people have just got to understand that,” Johnson continued.

To date, some 40 million people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine in the UK, with the programme expanding to those aged between 45 and 49 on Tuesday.

Mr Johnson said that “at the moment” he does not see “any reason” to alter his so-called “roadmap” for lifting lockdown restrictions in the country.

On Monday, shops, gyms, hairdressers, and outdoor pub and restaurants were permitted to open after months of being shuttered. The next stage of the roadmap will see restaurants and pubs be permitted to commence with indoor service on May 17th. A full reopening of the economy and lifting of limits on gatherings is expected by the 21st of June at the earliest.

While the Prime Minister has said that lockdowns will not be reimposed, his government has consistently claimed that it will “follow the data”, and therefore an upswing in hospitalisations could see restrictions be kept in place.

“It is very, very important that if we’re to get there in the way that we all want that people continue to be cautious and they continue to exercise restraint and just do the basic things to stop the spread of the virus,” Johnson said.

“So, you know, washing your hands, giving people plenty of space, doing things in fresh air as much as you can,” he added.

Mr Johnson’s claims on the effectiveness of lockdowns versus the vaccine seemingly fly in the face of data from the government’s own Office for National Statistics, which said in March that deaths from the coronavirus in England and Wales fell the fastest among those aged 80 and over amid the vaccination push.

During the week leading up to February 19th, there were 1,622 deaths among people aged over 80, falling from 5,300 a month prior. As the elderly population was prioritised to receive the vaccine during this time period, the drop suggests that the vaccine played a significant role in the 69 per cent decline.

Responding to the data in March, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The effectiveness of the vaccine on protecting people, and on reducing transmission, is critical to the roadmap [for lifting lockdown restrictions].”

Following Mr Johnson’s statement on Tuesday, the Health Secretary wrote in support of vaccination on social media: “I’m delighted to confirm we have met the target to offer a first vaccination to the 9 highest risk groups ahead of the 15 April deadline. Vaccines are safe, effective & have already saved over 10,000 lives – when it’s your turn, come forward & get the jab.”

Deaths from the coronavirus have continually fallen since the highs seen over the winter months in Britain and the total number of deaths from all causes in England and Wales in the past week are 19 per cent lower than the five-year average, the fourth straight week in which deaths have been below the five-year average.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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