WAITING too long to lift lockdown could prove deadlier with a double wave of Covid and flu, a Sage advisor warned.
Experts have predicted another wave is inevitable, regardless of when we fully open up or how many people are double jabbed by that point.
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Patient numbers could spike with a winter unlocking due to Covid and fluCredit: PA
Finding the best moment to fully lift is the key challenge for the Government and their advisors.
Even holding on to a form of lockdown until every adult has been fully dosed with two vaccines could be problematic, Professor Graham Medley agreed.
He told a briefing this morning delaying the lockdown lift until the winter was a “concern” – due to the wave of infections that would follow, combined with a flu outbreak.
The expert warned the influenza epidemic will come, as “contact rates will not be as low” and “because of the fact we didn’t have one last winter it will be a bit larger”.
It comes as:
Last month Public Health England’s Dr Susan Hopkins told the BBC: “I think we have to prepare for a hard winter, not only with coronavirus, but we’ve had a year of almost no respiratory viruses of any other type. And that means, potentially the population immunity to that is less.
“So we could see surges in flu. We could see surges in other respiratory viruses and other respiratory pathogens.”
Following this, although experts believe delaying the lift for four weeks is sensible, waiting too long could be a potential issue too.
If the lockdown lift was delayed until nearer the end of the summer, schools would then be going back and seasonal conditions for infections to better spread would be in play – meaning unvaccinated youngsters would be caught by the rise in Covid cases and transmitting the virus within classrooms.
A panel of scientists behind SPI-M-O, which models scenarios for the Government, all agreed a wave after fully unlocking would come.
It will be smaller due to the delay, but still possibly of “high magnitude”.
Speaking today they said halting June 21’s “Freedom Day” was the right call, with the extra four weeks buying precious time for vaccinations and to keep hospital admissions low.
Boris Johnson confirmed last night he hopes July 19 will be the date which all restrictions are lifted, after the slight hiccup thanks to the spreading Delta variant.
The University of Warwick modelling, presented by Professor Matt Keeling, found the month’s respite would reduce total hospital admissions by 20-25 per cent.
But they warned deaths and infections will increase whenever we dispense with masks and social distancing at Step 4 in the roadmap.
Vaccinations, while hugely effective, don’t protect everyone and some people will still get seriously unwell or die from Covid – despite the numbers being far lower than had the rollout not been so successful.
Prof Medley explained: “Essentially the vaccine reduces my risk of death hugely and I have had two doses now so my personal risk has gone down but as in most epidemiology its the individual risk times the number of people who take it.
“And there are a large number of people, tens of millions, who are in my position or worse.
“If we all take that risk at the same time then the number of deaths will be much bigger. We will take it in the next few weeks then the number of deaths can be very high.
Modelling by Warwick University shows how daily Covid admissions could hit 2,500 a day if June 21 unlocking went ahead
“The vaccines are working extremely well – if we didn’t have the vaccines we would be up to many hundreds of deaths a day at the moment.
“It’s really just a question of the fact that the risk is small but the number of people taking it is really very large. the fact that we are having a wave of infections so there will be a lot more mixing so a lot more people will be exposed to the virus in the coming weeks.”
The PM said a four week delay until July 19 should buy time for the vaccine rollout to catch up – but could not rule out a longer delay for Freedom Day.
He attempted to sugarcoat the blow by lifting restrictions on wedding sizes and swelling the Wembley crowd to 45,000 for the Euros.
The decision was made after Sage papers, from the LSHTM, warned the UK could suffer 50,000 deaths in a horror summer Covid wave.
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The PM was told 2,500 people may be hospitalised every day if unlocking continued as planned.
But critics slammed border dithering for allowing the mutant strain to take hold so quickly while others accused him of “panicking”.
Last night the jabs rollout was sped up to fight the bug, with 23 year olds invited to book today.
Modelling submitted to Sage shows how daily deaths could reach up to 500 a day by August (green line, right), according to scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Post source: The Sun
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