While not denying claims that ‘firebreak’ restrictions could be implemented in October if Covid hospital admissions remained high, Britain’s Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi warned that it depends on the success of the booster jab programme.
Zahawi, who is responsible for the UK’s vaccine rollout, warned that the ability to sustain the reopening of the economy would depend on the vaccine campaign. He said the “one-way road towards sustaining the opening of the economy” will only happen “if we do that well”.
He said the booster programme for the elderly and vulnerable is his “absolute priority” as it will “absolutely help us to transition the virus from pandemic to endemic status”.
His comments came after the i newspaper claimed that the government was planning an October ‘firebreak’ lockdown if the hospital admissions stayed high.
RT reports: The paper claimed that a senior government scientist and SAGE member said the cabinet was aware that an imminent “extended peak” of infections and hospitalisations was forthcoming. As a result, an October lockdown could be on the cards to protect the health service.
Speaking to Sky News, Zahawi did not endorse or deny the suggestion of another lockdown, but he said the government was now focused on a booster shot campaign. The “one-way road towards sustaining the opening of the economy” will only happen if the booster campaign goes to plan. He later said there were no plans for another lockdown.
He said that the inoculation campaign had allowed the country to reach an equilibrium, where virus circulation is high, but the economy is about as open as it could be. “They have prevented over 100,000 deaths, many, many millions of infections, and of course hospitalisations as well,” the vaccines minister said.
Zahawi said that the booster campaign, which has been recommended by the country’s vaccine experts, would help “transition the virus from pandemic to endemic status.”