The UK’s vaccination programme is offering a “false sense of security” amid a mounting third wave of infections, according to Government advisers who have called for next month’s unlocking to be delayed.
Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said that with the UK in the grip of an “early” third wave of Covid-19 infections, ministers should consider pushing back their target of scrapping all Covid measures on June 21 “by a few weeks”.
The University of Cambridge academic said there had been an “exponential growth” in the number of cases, fuelled by the more transmissible Indian variant, but that the “explosive” impact it could have was currently being masked by the high vaccination rate. More than 39 million people have been given a first jab and a further 25.3 million have had both doses.
It comes as NHS chiefs warned that the lockdown-induced backlog of treatments for ailments other than Covid mean that even a small increase in the number of coronavirus patients could cause hospitals to be overstretched once again.
When asked about the possibility of a delay to freedom from restrictions, Environment Secretary George Eustice said nothing could be ruled out.