Covid restrictions will likely have to be reimposed across England after the summer, but the government could delay the fact again, warned a Tory MP helping to lead a Commons inquiry into ministers’ handling of the pandemic.
Dr Dan Poulter, who has also worked on the NHS frontline since the outbreak began, said “difficult mutations” in the virus would likely emerge and delay a “return to normalcy” until at least 2022.
Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Monday that most legal constraints will be removed from July 19, as part of a pivot to tell people they must learn to live with the disease.
Poulter, vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Coronavirus, said there was “a sense of concern” about the full unlock, especially the risk that many young people – most of whom may not be not yet fully vaccinated – could develop Covid for a long time.
With the number of cases reaching levels not seen since January of this year, he said a “larger pool of virus” meant “a greater chance of mutation” and an emerging variant that was much better at evading vaccines. current.
Infections could soon reach 100,000 a day, new Health Secretary Sajid Javid said recently – a figure significantly higher than the 68,053 recorded on January 8, 2021.
Layla Moran, the Lib Dem MP who chairs the APPG, also said she believes ministers have not learned critical lessons and that her group – set up to review government decisions and save lives – may be needed for another four years.
After its creation last July, 73 MPs and peers from eight Westminster political parties gathered to hold 25 oral testimony sessions and make more than 50 recommendations to ministers.
Moran said the government was “playing Russian roulette” betting on the outcome of the pandemic, and expressed concern that some form of lockdown might be needed in the fall.
She said people could die needlessly if unlocking was “reckless.” “It’s worth not assuming you’re one step ahead of the virus because it always seems to have a foothold when you think you’re on your way to defeating it,” Moran said.
His caution was echoed by Poulter, who said he was forecasting a “tough winter” with the combined pressures of Covid and the flu. “The idea that we are completely done with the restrictions, I would say, is unrealistic,” he said.