Exclusive: Boris Johnson banking on August virus fall


ovid cases are set to start falling in August because the virus will “run out of people to infect”, the Government believes.

Data modelling due over the coming days is hoped to confirm that the turning point in Britain’s pandemic is likely to come this summer. Ministers believe the peak could be reached next month as the disease rips through people who are unvaccinated and those who have only had a single jab.

After that, the number of new infections should come down, giving the country its greatest hope yet that the war against Covid is reaching an end.

Department of Health officials have reportedly coined the term “hybrid immunity” to describe the protection from vaccinating older, more vulnerable people, combined with a mixture of vaccinations and natural immunity in the young.

Senior sources have told the Standard that although different models give different timings, there is rising confidence that the releasing of restrictions on July 19 will not be reversed.

“The modelling will give a more accurate indication of when a peak will occur,” said a source. “Mid-August is broadly where we believe it will come. It will run through the unvaccinated and the single-dosed, but because such vast numbers of people now have antibodies and can resist it, it will then start falling off because it will run out of people to infect.” So far Britain has vaccinated 64.3 per cent of over-18s with two doses, which give around 92 per cent protection against serious illness, and delivered at least one dose to a total of 86.2 per cent.

Downing Street denies that “herd immunity” is a deliberate policy goal. However, ministers say there is “an element” of that in the situation being reached where a combination of natural immunity and herd immunity through vaccination will starve the virus of new hosts.

Any confirmation that numbers will start falling will give a huge boost for businesses, especially the battered hospitality sector.

A row deepened between hospitality firms and the Government over a decision to delay until August 16 the ending of self-isolation rules for fully vaccinated people who have been in close contact with carriers.

Restaurateurs said the rules would be a “absolute nightmare” leading to unnecessary staff absences. After August 16, vaccinated people will be allowed to test instead of isolate.


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