After daily infections exceeded 4000 For the first time since April 1, Professor Christina Pagel, a member of the Independent Sage group and director of operations research at University College London, told Sky News that the country did not look “on the on track ”for the planned reopening.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re on the right track,” she said. “The R number is still based on data a few weeks old and the number of cases in England this week has been quite high. “
Over the past week, the number of people with the variant identified for the first time in India has doubled from 3,535 to 6,959 and overall coronavirus infections in England increase up to 3% every day.
The latest R (reproduction) number is estimated to be 1.0 to 1.1 – up from 0.9 to 1.1 last week, meaning that on average every 10 people infected with COVID will infect between 10 and 11 other people.
Earlier on Friday, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said there was nothing in the data to suggest England’s next step could be delayed.
Mr. Kwarteng said a the final decision will not be taken until June 14, adding that it is “impossible for anyone to know what the situation will be in a week or two”.
But Professor Pagel said the data “looks them straight in the face.”
“We have seen that the variant identified for the first time in India has doubled every week since its emergence in late March and this was at the second stage of the roadmap,” she said.
“We are now at step three of the roadmap. The increases of the last two days are a combination of (the Indian variant) and the additional reopening that we saw 10 or 11 days ago. “
She said the variant is mostly concentrated in hot spots, but that could change as families leave midway through, especially children, who make up the largest unvaccinated group.
Regarding June 21, when all legal restrictions on social contact are to be removed, she said: “I think they should delay it until we reach a much higher percentage of adults with two. doses.
“They’ve ramped up the vaccine rollout over the past two weeks, which is really welcome, and the more we can speed that up the better, but right now maybe reaching 75-80% of adults with two. doses looks like the end of August.
“I know this sounds like a long time, but I’d rather wait under the freedoms we have now than risk losing those freedoms if we get a really bad third wave. “
Professor Pagel is not the only expert to have expressed concern.
UK Health Security Agency chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said on Thursday she agreed with Imperial College scientist Professor Neil Ferguson when he said the next step of the roadmap “is at stake”.
And Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College, told Sky News: “We’re really balancing on a razor’s edge, but surely from everything we’ve all seen in the last 13 or 14 months. , we realize how ruthless and relentless this is. the virus is. “
Kate Nicholls, managing director of UK Hospitality, told Sky News that the June 21 reopening was “critical” for the industry, with millions of jobs depending on the move.
“Our pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, many of which are still bleeding at the moment, even if they are open, will struggle to stay afloat much longer – and most importantly, government support to the sector is dwindling and starting. to decrease. end from July 1, ”she said.
“So these companies will have a hard time staying afloat, and about a million jobs will be at risk, unless we can get extended government support until all of these social distancing restrictions are lifted.” “
Emma Fernandes-Lopes, historic properties manager at English Heritage, told Sky News that tickets for next week’s events at the organization’s venues are sold out.
She said: “It would obviously be devastating if we couldn’t keep our staff running, our visitors love to be here and enjoy the great outdoors. So we hope we can continue, but we are following the government’s current advice very carefully. carefully. “
He comes like the government approves fourth vaccine for use in UK – le vaccin monodose Johnson & Johnson.
Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi said 20 million doses had been ordered and would arrive later this year.