TThe unlocking of coronavirus restrictions on June 21 is expected to be delayed “by a few weeks” due to signs that the UK is in a new wave of Covid-19 infections, a government adviser has said.
Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the Advisory Group on New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats (Nervtag), told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the Indian variant was behind the increase in cases.
He said: “I think the problem is we’re not too far off reaching the kind of vaccination levels that would help us contain the virus and I think people aren’t saying we should drop the date altogether. June 21 but just delay it for a few weeks while we collect more intelligence and can look at the trajectory in a clearer way.
“If you look at the costs and benefits of being wrong, I think it’s strongly in favor of the delay, so I think that’s the key point.
“Yes, we will learn to live with it, but this date that was set did not take into account that we would have a new variant on the horizon, with properties that allow it to escape to some extent antibodies and a virus that is more transmissible. “
When asked if the UK was already in a third wave of coronavirus infections, the Cambridge University scholar said: ‘Yes, there has been an exponential growth in the number of new cases. and at least three quarters of them are the new variant.
“Of course, the number of cases is relatively low at the moment – all the waves start with a low number of cases growling in the background and then becoming explosive, so the key here is that what we’re seeing here are the signs of an early wave.
“It will probably take longer than previous waves to emerge due to the fact that we have quite high levels of vaccination in the population, so there may be a false sense of security for a while, and that is our concern. “
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