A member of the government’s virus response advisory group has warned that the UK is entering a “very dangerous” phase of the pandemic and urged the authorities to introduce new “near lockdown” measures.
Speaking to the BBC Today programme on Tuesday, Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London, painted a bleak outlook for 2021 unless new stricter Covid-19 measures were introduced.
“I think we are entering a very dangerous new phase of the pandemic and we’re going to need decisive, early, national action to prevent a catastrophe in January and February,” Hayward said.
The disease expert claimed that the new, more transmissible strain of Covid-19, prevalent in the UK, meant that previous measures and guidance for social distancing were not enough to tackle the resurgent virus.
“A 50% increase in transmissibility means that the previous levels of restrictions that worked before won’t work now, and so Tier 4 restrictions are likely to be necessary or even higher than that,” he noted.
Hayward, who is a member of the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, urged the government to be proactive against the new strain and return to the lockdown measures seen in the spring.
“I think we’re really looking at a situation where we’re moving into near lockdown, but we’ve got to learn the lessons from the first lockdown,” he asserted.
His comments come as a study, conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), urged the government to increase capacity for Covid-19 vaccinations and double its target.
The LSHTM paper said: “The most stringent intervention scenario with Tier 4 England-wide and schools closed during January and two million individuals vaccinated per week is the only scenario we considered which reduces peak ICU burden below the levels seen during the first wave.”
The study adds that the new strain of Covid-19 prevalent in the UK is “56% more transmissible.”
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