Matt Hancock gives update on June 21 lockdown lift as concerns remain over third wave
Matt Hancock has given a fresh update on the prospect of ending all coronavirus restrictions on June 21.
Experts are split over whether the final stage of lifting coronavirus restrictions should go ahead amid fears over a potential third wave of the pandemic washing over the UK.
Speaking ahead of a G7 health ministers’ meeting today (May 3), Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it remains too early to say whether all coronavirus restrictions can end on June 21.
He added: "Of course I look at those data every day, we publish them every day, the case numbers matter but what really matters is how that translates into the number of people going to hospital, the number of people sadly dying.
"The vaccine breaks that link - the question is how much the link has yet been broken because the majority of people who ended up in hospital are not fully vaccinated.
"That’s a good sign if you like because it means that the vaccine is clearly protecting people from ending up in hospital but it also demonstrates that we need to keep going with this vaccine programme."
His comments come after Boris Johnson said the lifting of all Covid restrictions on 21 June is currently on track, but admitted the latest data is “ambiguous”.
"I can see nothing in the data at the moment that means we can’t go ahead with Step 4,” the prime minister said.
"What we need to work out is to what extent the vaccination programme has protected enough of us, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, against a new surge - and there I'm afraid the data is still ambiguous.”
Mr Johnson was questioned amid a growing chorus of scientists urging him to slam the brakes on the roadmap due to the surge in Covid infections and hospitalisations.
Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said the UK’s pandemic picture had changed since its road map to recovery was drawn up, chiefly through the emergence of the Indian B1617.2 strain of the virus.
He also warned the increased socialisation following last month's easing of restrictions could lead to "quite a lot" of hospital admissions, and said while Britain had performed "amazingly well" in its vaccination programme, it was still too early "to put the vaccine straight up against the virus".
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