The Prime Minister has delayed the June 21 unlocking from all Covid restrictions until July 19. That, he says, is the terminus date. He means it is an absolute. There will be no further change. Restrictions will end then. His chief medical and scientific offers agreed. But are they right?
Public Health England issued data to support the move. As Politico notes Politico notes on the findings;
The Pfizer jab is 96 percent effective against hospitalization after two doses; AstraZeneca is 92 percent effective against hospitalization after two doses.
The same source also notes straightforwardly contradictory findings from Scotland:
The Delta variant carries about double the risk of hospitalization compared with the Alpha variant first identified in the U.K., according to research from Scotland released Monday
Only one of the findings of these two pieces of research is going to be close to the truth, so different are they. And we do not know as yet, although I have remarkably little confidence in the objectivity of Public Health England at present, so skewed has their data reporting been.
Nor can we be sure about the impact of delay. This tweet quotes data from Sage and shows the modelled impact of delaying the realise from stage 4 at weekly intervals:
The lines are the central projections.
But look at the *range* of the projection not just the central projection.
Vaccine rollout is critical. pic.twitter.com/otpx8rIw1p
— Dr Duncan Robertson (@Dr_D_Robertson) June 14, 2021
I am aware that there are criticisms that these projections have always been pessimistic. If so, they’re still good enough to worry the government.
Whatever the actual scenario four things stand out. First, that there isn’t a peak until 19 July. Second, there are significant tails. Third, as the range data shows, there is considerable room for things to differ from the central projection. Fourth, no one can be sure how big the peak will be.
But, whatever happens we now have a government committed to unblocking the country at the very peak of a Covid wave, or as likely, before that peak has happened. It really does not take a lot of effort to work out that this would be the height of foolishness as a result of which the situation might only get worse.
Is that what the government is really going to do? I actually doubt it. I really do not think it possible that they could do that. Caution for the NHS should, surely, prevent it?
I do, however, accept that they might, but if anything went wrong the political repercussions would be difficult to handle. Will even Johnson take that risk? Could he really get away with it? It will be a mighty gamble.
This issue is not resolved as yet, whatever Johnson might like to say.