UK Covid live: Johnson says data ‘ambiguous’ on whether enough people protected by jabs to allow more easing

Debate is continuing over whether the final stages of unlocking restrictions in England can go ahead on 21 June due to concerns over the spread of the Delta variant first identified in India.

Downing Street has indicated that Boris Johnson still sees nothing in the data to suggest the plan will need to be delayed.

A No 10 spokesman said:

The prime minister has said on a number of occasions that we haven’t seen anything in the data but we will continue to look at the data, we will continue to look at the latest scientific evidence as we move through June towards June 21.

Tuesday’s zero death tally is likely to feed into ministers’ considerations.

They will also consider that the figure followed a bank holiday weekend, so there may be a delay in reporting of deaths.

The NHS Confederation said the ONS figures, which show a 29% fall in coronavirus deaths from the previous week, were reassuring but “the race is not yet won”.

Director of policy Dr Layla McCay said:

Given predictions of a summer wave of infections, the government must now use all available data to consider carefully whether 21 June is the right date for lifting all restrictions.

It is of real concern that cases are climbing quickly, and our members are increasingly worried that this will lead to more hospital admissions.

The vaccination programme in England will be extended to all adults within weeks, while all those aged 18 and over in Wales and Northern Ireland are able to book their jabs.

In Scotland over-18s are being invited to pre-register for a jab with appointments starting in mid-June.

The UK as a whole is expected to hit another milestone of three-quarters of the adult population receiving their first Covid jab.

Latest government data suggests more than 39.4 million people had received their first dose, equating to 74.9% of adults.

Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that current figures “don’t look too intimidating” but they still need to “play out for a couple of weeks” before the government makes its final decision on whether the 21 June reopening can go ahead.

He said:

I think the gain now is, can we get more people vaccinated down into younger, younger age groups to try and stop more transmission.

In Scotland, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, paused plans to ease restrictions in much of the country.

She announced on Tuesday that while parts of the country will move to Level 1 of the Scottish government’s restrictions from Saturday, much of the central belt including Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow will be kept in Level 2.

Sturgeon said the country was still at a “delicate and fragile point” in the battle with the virus, in an announcement on restrictions which she described as a “mixed bag”.

Scotland’s clinical director, Prof Jason Leitch, warned the Delta variant “is causing us some challenge and is spreading quicker than we hoped”.


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