Scientists are urging the government to speed up second doses of Covid vaccines and delay a decision on easing lockdown restrictions in England on 21 June in an effort to tackle the creeping spread of new cases.
Data has shown the coronavirus variant first detected in India, known as B.1.617.2, is continuing to spread across England, and is thought to be driving a rise in cases. It is believed to be both more transmissible than the variant first detected in Kent, which previously dominated, and somewhat more resistant to Covid vaccines, particularly after one dose.
The situation has led some scientists to warn the country is in the early stages of a third wave of coronavirus which, despite the vaccination programme, modelling suggests could lead to a rise in hospitalisations and deaths, and that full easing of restrictions in England in three weeks’ time should be reconsidered.
The British Medical Association called on the prime minister, Boris Johnson, to honour his pledge to lift measures based on “data, not dates” and said the government should hold off giving the green light to progressing to stage four of the roadmap “until the latest data can be scientifically considered”.
“We are at a pivotal moment,” said the BMA council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, who warned a “premature” ending of all legal restrictions may result in a surge of infections that “would undermine our health service” and undo all the progress made suppressing Covid-19. “We cannot afford to repeat past mistakes,” he said.