As expected, the easing of the corona measures in England will be postponed until July 19. Prime Minister Johnson announced that at a press conference. In fact, the intention was to carry out major easing this Monday.
The extension of the measures has been expected for some time. In recent days, there has been much concern in the country about the increasing number of infections with the delta variant (the Indian variant) of the coronavirus, which is much more contagious than the dominant alpha variant (the British). Due to the delta variant, the Netherlands has already identified the United Kingdom as a very high risk area.
In his press conference, Johnson outlined a picture of hospitals and intensive cares that can quickly get full again due to the delta variant. According to him, the number of infections rose 64 percent in the past week. An increase was already expected due to previous easing, but Johnson says that “with what we now know about the ruthless logic of exponential growth” makes sense to slow down.
Johnson said he had the choice between relaxing now, with the risk that “the virus would run harder than the vaccines,” or create a little more time for the vaccination campaign. He chose the latter one. The situation will be reviewed on 28 June, but it is not expected that the easing will be raised.
The British government thinks it takes no more than four more weeks. “By being careful now, we have four weeks to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions of people,” Johnson said. “It‘s time to get off gear now.”
To be ready for easing in four weeks, the British Prime Minister is accelerating the vaccination campaign. As of July 19, all adults in the country must have had a first coronaprik. 66 percent must be fully vaccinated, and 40 people over will get their second shot faster than planned after their first.
Vaccines effective against delta variant
Shortly before Johnson’s press conference, British health authorities had positive news about the fight against the delta variant. The vaccines of Pfizer and AstraZeneca provide 96 and 92 percent protection against the variant after two punctures according to the latest figures, respectively, which is comparable to the protection offered by the pricks against the alpha variant.
“These are very important findings that confirm that the vaccines provide significant protection against hospitalization by the delta variant,” said Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunization at Public Health England.