UK government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has warned that the country cannot rely on the vaccine rollout to do the “heavy lifting” to ease the pressure on the NHS and to reduce Covid-19 infections rates.
Appearing on his regular Q&A session with Sky News viewers, the government adviser warned that, despite the rollout of the Covid-19 jabs that have been approved for use in the UK, the country cannot solely rely on those vaccines to get the nation into a position where it is safe to relax the existing social distancing measures.
Vaccines are not going to do the heavy lifting for us at the moment…This is about the, I’m afraid, restrictive measures which we’re all living under, and carrying on with those.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration has come under pressure from within his own party to lay out a timeframe for the easing of restrictions, as infection rates have begun to fall across the UK. However, Vallance was clear that the numbers “need to come down quite a lot further” and “are nowhere near where they need to be.”
Vallance was swift to outline that any relaxation of the measures would be done slowly and carefully to allow the effects to be understood and monitored by the government to prevent a future spike in Covid-19 cases and fatalities. As such, he was clear that he doesn’t see a release of these measures “being a sensible thing to do in the short term.”
The guidance from the government’s chief scientific adviser came mere hours after the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel had offered a contradictory suggestion, stating that lockdown could be lifted once the country has vaccinated vulnerable people.
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Speaking to BBC News, Patel explained that “We cannot talk about easing restrictions and measures until we are absolutely clear we have vaccinated priority groups,” implying that a government review of the current lockdown will depend on the success of the vaccine distribution.
The UK has vaccinated 4,266,577 people with at least one dose of a Covid-19 jab, as of January 19. In the past seven days, the number of new daily infections has fallen by 22.3 percent to 302,802, while fatalities have risen by 19.8 percent to 1,369.
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