England won’t be lifting the Covid-19 restrictions on June 21st as the Delta variant of the virus is yet to be contained.
The United Kingdom has conducted a successful vaccine rollout that has seen over half of the adult population fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, the prevalence of the delta variant - first identified in India - has prompted the Prime Minister to delay the restrictions to July 19. The new variant makes up 90% of all new cases, raising the tally to its highest since February. The number of hospitalizations and deaths have however remained intact with over 40% of the adult population now fully vaccinated.
At a press conference, the PM warned against any form of laxity as still thousands of lives can be saved in the coming weeks if millions more are vaccinated.
The UK fears growing variant cases will result in hospitalization spikes akin to that witnessed during the first wave. Johnson pointed out that the virus “greatly reduces transmission” adding that it offers a “high level of protection” towards serious infection and death. He pointed out that millions of adults are yet to be vaccinated, posing a threat to the elderly and vulnerable who will succumb to the infection even when on two jabs.
According to Public Health England, the two main vaccines used in the UK offer a high level of effectiveness against the variant. PHE gives AstraZeneca a 92% efficacy against the variant after two doses are administered, while Pfizer-BioNTech delivers 96% protection. The research also pointed out that one vaccine dose is 17% less effective on the Delta variant when compared to the Alpha variant. This has prompted the UK to race against time and vaccinate the remainder of the population within the next four weeks.
Already the government looks to reduce the gap between doses from 12 to 8 weeks on those aged above 40. Anyone within this age group who had a dose sometime in mid-May can now go for another shot by July 19. It is also expected that all over 18s will have received their first doses at that time.
BoJo sees it as the last delay but will be guided by official data. A majority of the public has supported the country’s tough Covid-19 restrictions however, this U-turn may work against the PM as businesses had begun gearing up for a new summer of freedom. British citizens have been under some form of Covid-19 restriction since March 23, 2020, and saw the worst of thousands of daily deaths, a canceled Christmas, and a lot more. Conservative Party members seem to be uneasy over the new change in dates but have nevertheless remained tight-lipped.