Boris Johnson today gave the biggest hint yet that the June 21 ‘Freedom Day’ will be pushed back because of the rapid spread of the Indian Covid variant as he admitted ‘everybody can see cases are going up’ and accepted there were ‘arguments on both sides’.
The Prime Minister’s comments mark a softening in his lockdown-ending stance after previously saying there is nothing in the data to suggest the date should be delayed.
It came after the UK recorded another 7,540 positive tests in the biggest week-on-week spike since February, as the mutant strain continues to spiral.
Speaking at the G7 summit in Cornwall the Prime Minister said: ‘What everybody can see very clearly is that cases are going up and in some places hospitalisations are going up. What we need to assess is the extent to which the vaccine rollout, which has been phenomenal, has built up enough protection in the population in order for us to go ahead to the next stage.
‘So that is what we will be looking at and there are arguments being made one way or another. But we will be driven by the data, we will be looking at that and setting it out on Monday.’
However, just hours after Mr Johnson spoke, one of his top SAGE advisers Professor Neil Ferguson dashed hopes of the roadmap coming to an end in two weeks’ time when he said scientists need up to three weeks of data before they can accurately work out how dangerous the Indian variant is and how bad the third wave could be.
The virus modelling expert, who has guided the Government through the pandemic and earned himself the nickname ‘Professor Lockdown’, said scientists still don’t know how much faster the variant spreads, how much more deadly it is nor how big the third wave will be.
Read more: ‘Everybody can see cases and hospitalisations are going up’: Downbeat Johnson (reading his script) says he will be driven by the data as he decides on June 21 ‘Freedom Day’ after Professor Lockdown Ferguson tells him we won’t even have accurate numbers for THREE WEEKS. Ferguson has not had accurate numbers in three decades – why the hell is anyone listening to this idiot? Because he tells them what they want to hear