It is time for Britons to “learn to live” with the coronavirus, said health secretary Sajid Javid on Monday (June 28), as he vowed to end all the restrictions on July 19 even as experts continued to differ on vaccinating teenage children to further curb the spread of Covid-19.
While addressing the House of Commons, Javid said restrictions should not last “a moment longer” than necessary and he is determined that July 19 is the “end of the line” for the lockdown, adding it is “going to be irreversible – there’s no going back”.
Javid’s declaration comes as the UK reported 22,868 new cases, the highest level seen since late January, though Public Health England claimed that this figure included some which had not been included in Sunday’s figures due to a technical issue.
Of the 315 local authorities in England, 291 have reported a rise in rates and 24 have seen a fall, with the highest rate reported in Hyndburn in Lancashire. The spread is attributed to the more transmissible Delta variant, the variant first reported in India, as the most recent data shows that approximately 95 per cent of confirmed cases are Delta variant cases.
Meanwhile, the issue of vaccinating children remains the focus of intense debate in the country with some academics claiming it will be wrong to offer vaccines to children – who are at relatively low risk of illness – while vulnerable people in other countries are yet to receive their first dose.
On the contrary, experts have said it is important to offer the jabs to teenagers to stem the spread of infection and prevent further disruption to education.
Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the Nervtag advisory group, said that offering the vaccines to those over the age of 12 may prove to be the key to “interrupting” the spread of Covid-19 and prevent a further outbreak in this coming winter and the following spring.
Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, also told The Independent that leaving millions of children unvaccinated will likely prevent the UK from reaching the “85 to 90 per cent” immunity threshold needed across the population to prevent the spread of the Delta variant.
Israel, France and the US have already started using the Pfizer jab to vaccinate teenagers. It emerged at the weekend that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will not make any decision on vaccinating adolescents until later next month.