House of Commons, 6 January. PM Johnson said: “What I can say today, if our understanding of the virus doesn’t change dramatically again as it has, if the vaccines take effect that we think they will and the roll out continues to be successful and above all, if everyone continues to play their part in following this lockdown, then clearly at that moment, around 15 February, when we have taken them four cohorts and immunised them, there will be substantial opportunities to relax the restrictions.”
This follows the Prime Minister’s speech on 4 January:
“…In England alone, the number of COVID patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week, to almost 27,000. That number is 40 per cent higher than the first peak in April.
“On December 29, more than 80,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK – a new record. The number of deaths is up by 20 per cent over the last week and will sadly rise further. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones.
“With most of the country already under extreme measures, it is clear that we need to do more, together, to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out.
“In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant.”
The situation may not have been so dire if the PM had taken note of Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, chair of the All-Party Group on Coronavirus who submitted an interim report on the coronavirus pandemic on December 3, 2020.
Layla Moran wrote to the PM again on 18 December, reminding him that according to the National Audit Office (NAO) the NHS England and NHS Improvement planning assumption is that up to 25 million people could be vaccinated with two doses of vaccine throughout 2021 in England. This would mean that less than half the UK population may be vaccinated by the end of 2021 – far short of the number who need to receive the vaccine in order to achieve population immunity.
It would be prudent for the Prime Minister to listen to Layla Moran MP, whose response to the Prime Minister’s 4 December speech was:
“These further restrictions are needed, but only because the PM hasn’t learned from his mistakes last year. The APPG on Coronavirus sent him 44 urgent recommendations in December to improve our handling of the pandemic.
“Crucially, that includes adopting the Covid-Secure UK exit strategy to control, suppress and then eliminate coronavirus. Unless the Government gets the R number under control using locally-led test and trace, and then keeps the virus suppressed with strict testing at the UK’s borders, this damaging cycle of boom and bust lockdowns will continue until the vaccine is rolled out.
“It’s time for the PM to listen to MPs, read our report and implement our recommendations.”
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