Final lockdown easing in England “not inevitable” amid variant concerns: UK gov’t adviser


LONDON, (Xinhua) — The final step of easing the coronavirus lockdown in England on June 21 is not “not inevitable”, a British government adviser said Tuesday.

Adam Kucharski, a member of Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), told the BBC that “we need to keep all options on the table”.

The SPI-M gives expert advice to the Department of Health and Social Care and the wider British government on scientific matters relating to Britain’s response to an influenza pandemic or other emerging human infectious disease threats.

“We have to avoid seeing this as a weather forecast where it’s inevitable, things are going to be open, it’s inevitable,” said Kucharski, an infectious disease expert from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Under British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap, June 21 is the day all restrictions are due to end in England, but the spread of the India-related variant has prompted concern that the plan could be delayed.

“Of course, it doesn’t make that an easy decision, keeping things in place or introducing things incurs a harm as well. But I think we do have to look at the patterns we’re seeing very seriously, and think about where that may leave us in a couple of months time,” he said.

More than 38 million people, or more than 70 percent of adults in Britain, have been given the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest official figures.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he is “increasingly confident” England is “on track” for the British government’s roadmap exiting the coronavirus lockdown.

His remarks came after a study by Public Health England (PHE) showed promising results for the two main vaccines being used to fight coronavirus in Britain.

Experts have warned that coronavirus may continue to evolve for years to come, and eventually it is likely current vaccines will fail to protect against transmission, infection, or even against disease caused by newer variants.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Russia, the United States as well as the European Union have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.