COVID-19: UK scientists warn of summer surge

By Muhammad Mussa

LONDON (AA) – UK's vaccination advisory body has warned of a likely surge in coronavirus cases this summer as the country relaxes restrictions.

Professor Adam Finn of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) warned that many people in the UK have not been immunized and are still vulnerable to the virus. Furthermore, he argued that the timeline for the lockdown exit may need to be adjusted in the advent of such a surge.

"The models that we've seen on JCVI clearly point to a summer surge in cases as the lockdown is relaxed, because there are still many people in the adult population who've not been immunized.” Finn said on the BBC Breakfast Programme.

"If people move too far forward with that too fast, we'll see things start to come up earlier. The sense that the problem is all over, I'm afraid is a flawed one, we're still in a vulnerable situation, and there are still significant numbers of people who potentially could be harmed by this infection if this happens," he added.

Despite the warnings from the government body, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that official data does not suggest that the subsequent stages of the roadmap out of lockdown cannot go ahead and insisted that the lifting of restrictions will go ahead as planned.

“I see nothing in the data now that makes me think we are going to have to deviate in any way from the roadmap, cautious but irreversible, that we have set out. There is no doubt at all that this country is continuing to make progress in the fight against COVID.

"We are proceeding with our roadmap,” Johnson said in a press conference on Tuesday.

The prime minister, however, did acknowledge the warnings from the JCVI, agreeing with prominent scientists that there will inevitably be a surge in cases and people throughout the country will have to accept the reality that COVID-19 will remain for a while to come.

“But the majority of scientific opinion in this country is still firmly of the view that there will be another wave of Covid at some stage this year and so we must – as far as possible – learn to live with this disease, as we live with other diseases. We will be bolstering our defences with booster jabs this autumn. We’ll be continuing with testing,” Johnson said.

On Wednesday, 2,396 people had a confirmed positive test of the virus adding this week’s total to 17,239. This represents a 9.4% decrease in comparison to the last seven days.

A total of 22 virus-related deaths were reported on Wednesday. Between April 10 and 16, there were 185 deaths within 28 days of testing. This shows a 28.2% decrease in comparison to the previous week.

Over 33 million people were administered their first dose of the vaccine by the end of April 20 with 10.7 million people now having received the second. Vaccines are currently administered in two doses, 21 days apart.

The latest R range for the UK stands at 0.7-1.0, with the current growth rate at -6% to -1% per day. The R number is a mechanism used to rate the virus’s ability to spread, with R being the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.