Imperial College expert warns against lifting restrictions too soon

Imperial College expert warns against lifting restrictions too soon

February 15, 2021

Imperial College expert warns new coronavirus wave could kill tens of thousands of Britons by late summer if lockdown is completely lifted too early

  • Professor Azra Ghani revealed how a model forecasts significant wave of deaths by summer 2021 if restrictions are eased in July – even despite a vaccine rollout
  • The government has vowed to release its plan to exit lockdown on February 22
  • Government is seemingly taking a cautious approach to returning to normality

The new wave of coronavirus could kill tens of thousands of Britons by late summer if the lockdown is lifted too soon, an Imperial College expert has warned.  

The government has vowed to release its plan to exit lockdown on February 22, but reports indicate the Government is taking a cautious approach to returning the country to normality. 

Professor Azra Ghani revealed how a new model called COVIDSIM, made at Imperial College London, forecasts a significant wave of deaths by summer 2021 if restrictions are eased in July – even despite a successful vaccine rollout. 

But a more positive result can be achieved if most restrictions are kept in place until most Britons are vaccinated in September, ITV News reports.  

Professor Ghani said: ‘My advice would be to be cautious… to open up slowly, because in the long term this will be the better way out of the pandemic.’

Professor Azra Ghani revealed how a new model called COVIDSIM, made at Imperial College London, forecasts a significant wave of deaths by summer 2021 if restrictions are eased in July – even despite a successful vaccine rollout

Using a graph that pinpoints reported deaths, Professor Ghani said that from the current time forward, with current measures in place and with the help of the vaccination programme, we could expect to see a ‘really rapid decline in deaths’

She added: ‘The problem is that it is highly transmissible, we now have these new variants in place that we know are even more transmissible than previously, and not everybody will be vaccinated for various reasons.

‘That can lead to subsequent epidemics if we just relaxed everything straight away.’

Using a graph that pinpoints reported deaths, Professor Ghani said that from the current time forward, with current measures in place and with the help of the vaccination programme, we could expect to see a ‘really rapid decline in deaths’.     

The model comes as Boris Johnson warns the public to be ‘optimistic but patient’ as he cautioned against cutting any corners when it comes to lifting the lockdown.

The Prime Minister struck a blunt tone as he warned that he wanted the current shutdown to be the last – while admitting he could not ‘guarantee’ that it would be.

Mr Johnson is planning to reveal the guts of his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown in a week’s time but is facing heavy pressure from politicians and industry leaders to raise restrictions as soon as possible.

They see the announcement that the 15million vaccinations’ target being hit on time as a sign that lockdown can be totally lifted by May, with key sectors of the economy back on their feet much sooner.

Britain on Monday recorded just 9,765 coronavirus cases in the smallest daily rise since October, with 230 lab-confirmed deaths. Both daily tolls were down by 30 per cent on last Monday’s 14,104 infections and 333 fatalities.

But what may be seen as a swipe at fidgeting Tory backbenchers of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) he said ‘we don’t today have all the hard facts that we need’ and urged caution with freedom at last within sight.

The PM also urged people to take reports on the dates and order of the easing of lockdown restrictions ‘with a pinch of salt’.

Fronting a Downing Street press conference tonight, he said: ‘This moment is a huge step forward but it’s only a first step. And while it shows what the country can do we must be both optimistic but also patient.

‘And next week I will be setting out a roadmap saying as much as we possibly can about the route to normality even though some things are very uncertain.

‘Because we want this lockdown to be the last. And we want progress to be cautious but also irreversible.’

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