Furious Tory MPs fumed today that the UK’s hugely successful Covid vaccine roll-out will be ‘pointless’ if it doesn’t get Britain back to normal soon – as prominent SAGE scientists called for longer curbs to drive cases down further.
No10’s top scientific advisers today warned infections must plummet to fewer 10,000 cases before Boris Johnson should start easing brutal lockdown curbs, or the country risks allowing new mutant variants to spawn.
Tory MP Marcus Fysh told MailOnline SAGE’s demands were ‘highly unrealistic’ and warned ministers must stick to the hospitalisation and deaths criteria ‘in order to preserve the confidence that people have in the process’.
He added: ‘It is essential they stick to what they have set out. Lockdowns are incredibly damaging to people’s lives and livelihoods.’
His comments came after Sir Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust and member of SAGE, said there were still 750,000 cases in England — 75 times more than he claimed they should be. For comparison, the figure — the estimated number of people who would test positive on any given day — never dipped below the 14,000 mark during the summer.
‘Transmission is still incredibly high in the UK,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘If transmission were still at this level and we were not in lockdown, we would be going into lockdown. We’ve got to get it lower, we’ve got to get it – in my view – into the single thousands before we can possibly think of lifting restrictions.’
He added it was ‘not sensible’ for ministers to set a date for lifting any restrictions, warning they must be led by the evidence in order to avoid a third major spike in infections.
In a further blow to hopes measures could be relaxed by the summer, fellow SAGE expert Professor John Edmunds warned most curbs on daily life — which could include the Rule of Six — are likely to be in force until the end of this year, while less restrictive curbs — like face mask wearing on public transport and indoors — could possibly be in place ‘forever’.
Read more: Furious Tory MPs say Covid vaccine roll-out is pointless unless UK goes back to normal life soon after SAGE doomsters push back on easing lockdown within weeks and warn we could be wearing masks FOREVER