Monday, 22 February 2021

Exiting lockdown at a snail's pace

The government promised that its strategy for exiting lockdown would be based on data not dates. Instead, it has produced a rigid and anally-retentive plan focused on arbitrary dates which acts as if we haven't learned anything from previous lockdowns and assumes that we don't know anything about the vaccines coursing through 18 million people's veins.

We're going to look ridiculous when we've vaccinated all the priority groups before the rest of Europe and are still hanging out in parks while the rest of Europe has reopened. I fear the quack modellers at Imperial and Warwick have had too much influence again.

I've written about this for the Telegraph.

Anyone minded to look at the data can see that both the current lockdown and the vaccination programme have exceeded expectations. Despite experts warning that the ‘UK variant’ would make it impossible for R to fall much below 1, the number of new infections has fallen by 80 per cent since the start of January. 

Eighteen million people - a quarter of the adult population - have had their first jab of a vaccine that is working better than anyone could have hoped. Research from Israel not only shows that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine is 95.8% effective in preventing hospitalisations, but that even a single dose reduces the risk of symptomatic infection by 85%. The Oxford/AstraZeneca is also exceeding expectations, with a study suggesting that a single dose is 76% effective in preventing symptomatic disease and 100% effective in preventing hospitalisation. Recent research from Scotland found that a single dose reduced the risk of hospitalisation by 94%. 

With 95 per cent of the over-70s having received at least one jab, there can be no justification for making the nation wait until May to get a haircut. The timeline put forward by the Prime Minister would be excessive even if we didn’t have vaccines. In the first lockdown, almost everything was open after three and a half months. This time around, despite the 32 million people in the priority groups on course to have at least one dose of a vaccine by April, there are doubts about whether we’ll be able to go to the pub or have a holiday in the UK by May. 


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