As ministers continue to lift most of England’s restrictions next week, a third of the population is still unprotected from being infected with Covid, researchers have estimated.
So far there have been approx. 15 million infections (approximately 27% of the UK population), and when partial and full vaccinations are taken into account, leave approx. 33% of the population is still susceptible to being infected with the Delta variant, which is now dominant, said Matt Keeling, professor of populations and diseases at the University of Warwick and a member of a Sage subcommittee focusing on modeling infectious disease and epidemiology ( Spi-M).
About half of the UK is now fully vaccinated, but Covid infections are on the rise again and hospital admissions are on the rise, driven by Delta’s proliferation and the lifting of some restrictions. On Tuesday, the UK reported 50 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test, the worst daily toll since early April and 36,660 new Covid cases.
Boris Johnson has confirmed plans to drop almost all restrictions in England next week, including mask-bearing and socially distancing mandates, but has called for caution. Whether this unlocking is permanent or temporary will depend on precautions taken by the public and vaccination rates, Sage researchers say.
Suggesting that there would be a jump in cases where the restrictions were lifted, Johnson said Monday that it would be better to unlock now with the “natural fire” during the school summer holidays than in the fall or winter when the NHS will be under greater pressure.
Dr Marc Baguelin of Imperial College London and a member of Spi-M said on Tuesday that the modeling showed there was limited benefit in delaying reopening. “All we have to do is just push things down the line – we would get a little more vaccination, but that would not make a huge difference,” he said. But he added: “If we open up now, which has been the decision, it must be done gradually and with care.”
Other researchers have vehemently opposed unlocking next week, suggesting the government has decided to gain flock immunity by actually letting the virus run wild in young people, which they say will lead to disruptions in NHS care, education and more people becoming lange Covid.
The Regulatory Agency (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) has approved the use of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for children over 12 years of age, but the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) has not yet issued a recommendation for vaccination under 18 years of age. .
“The difference between herd immunity by vaccination and herd immunity by infection is, if you do it by infection, a lot of people get sick and a lot of people get really sick and stay really sick,” said Dr. Helen Salisbury, a physician and medical adviser to the Health Experiences Research Group at the University of Oxford. “If you do it by vaccination, you have control. I do not understand why the government chooses to do herd immunity via infection when they could do herd immunity by vaccination – I think it is criminal. ”
Recent data suggest that vaccine uptake has weakened the link between infections and hospitalizations and death, but has not disrupted it. With a high rate of infections, even a small percentage of people who are hospitalized and / or die will still be a large number, researchers have emphasized. They also warn that the higher the infection rates, the greater the chance of the virus developing vaccine-resistant variants.
“I think the worst of the pandemic is now behind us,” said Dr. Bill Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, spoke at a congressional hearing on coronavirus. “What is being done now is actively making this part worse.”