Covid Plan B might be needed because of Delta variant, Chris Whitty warns
Professor Andrew Hayward told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve moved away from a situation where there’s a potential for hundreds of thousands of deaths to a situation where we may still see tens of thousands of deaths.”
The warning came as Boris Johnson refused to rule out a face-mask mandate and vaccine passports as part of a “plan B” to tackle a potential infection surge this winter.
While booster vaccines will be offered to all over-50s at the start of autumn, advisers have warned ministers must not wait to implement additional measures if needed.
Sir Patrick Vallance told a news briefing on Tuesday: “When you make a move, you have to go earlier than you think you want to, you have to go harder than you think you want to and you have to make sure you have got the right geographical coverage.”
‘Tens of thousands of deaths’ still a possibility, Sage member says
While the UK is in a much better place than last winter, it is still possible we will see tens of thousands of coronavirus deaths in winter, a Sage member has said.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Professor Andrew Hayward said: “This winter is definitely very different from last winter.
“When we went into last winter, about 10 per cent of us had antibodies to Covid, this winter 90 per cent of us have antibodies.
“So, we’ve moved away from a situation where there’s a potential for hundreds of thousands of deaths to a situation where we may still see tens of thousands of deaths.”
He added that the “number of hospitalisations” is a more relevant figure than the number of cases when looking at what may trigger plan B.
“We should be more focused on the number of hospitalisations and the ability of the NHS to cope,” he said.
Ella Glover15 September 2021 08:41
Government’s ‘plan B’ to tackle rising cases may include vaccine passports and masks
Boris Johnson has said it is “not sensible” to rule out vaccine passports, which may be necessary along with masks and a return working from home as part of the government’s “plan B” to tackle rising cases in autumn.
Earlier, Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed all over-50s in the UK – as well as those in other vulnerable groups – would be offered a booster shot to maintain protection levels as the country enters the autumn.
But, if the situation significantly worsens, a contingency plan has been drawn up to avoid any future lockdowns.
Mr Johnson said the government’s plan B had “a number of different shots in the locker” with which it could respond if cases started rising.
“You wouldn’t necessarily play them all at once, far from it, you would want to do things in a graduated way,” he said.
“We’re now in a situation when because so many of the population have some degree of immunity, smaller changes in the way we’re asking people to behave can have a bigger impact.”
Speaking on Sky News this morning, health secretary Sajid Javid said plan B could be triggered by a new variant of concern, pressures on the NHS and the level of hospitalisation.
However, he declined to put a number on how many cases or admissions would trigger plan B.
Ella Glover15 September 2021 08:30