Source: Victoria Friedman

A government scientific advisor has signalled that Britons may not see the end of Chinese coronavirus restrictions in July, saying that the UK “may have to do further lockdowns this Winter”.

Monday the 21st of June was supposed to be Boris Johnson’s ‘Freedom Day’, when all lockdown restrictions would be lifted after the government’s successful vaccine programme saw 81 per cent of the adult population receive their first dose of the vaccine, with 59 per cent fully vaccinated to date.

However, last week the prime minister announced a delay of the end of restrictions by four weeks, to July 19th.

Dr Susan Hopkins is a member of the influential Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which advises the government on its pandemic strategy, and is the chief COVID-19 advisor to Public Health England. When asked to comment on whether she thought the 19th of July would, indeed, be the “terminus date” for all future lockdowns, Dr Hopkins told the BBC’s Nick Robinson: “We need to move to a situation where we live with this… We may have to do further lockdowns this Winter. I can’t predict the future. It really depends on whether the hospitals start to become overwhelmed at some point.

“But I think we will have alternative ways to manage this, through vaccination, through anti-virals, through drugs, through testing that we didn’t have last winter and all of those things allow different approaches rather than restrictions on lives and restrictions on livelihoods that will move us forward into the next phase of learning to live with this.”

The idea of another lockdown in Winter 2021/22 is not new, having been raised as a possibility by England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty in January 2021. However, that was before the UK has fully embarked on its vaccine programme, with recent figures from PHE showing the vaccines are highly effective against the Chinese virus.

After recent polls showed Britons both backing the extension of restrictions and even another delay if the government deemed it necessary, lockdown sceptics have warned that dire scientific predictions, particularly those from SAGE, are driving Britons into a state of fear where they more readily accept curtailments to their freedoms.

Last week, former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said that Britons had become frightened of the virus because of “incorrect” forecasts on deaths.

“We get forecasts that seem to frighten everybody rather than reality. And the reality so far that I have seen — and the figures show this, Public Health England’s latest figures show that there is no evidence to date that the vaccines do not work on stopping hospitalisation,” Mr Duncan Smith had said.

Fellow Conservative MP and lockdown sceptic Sir Charles Walker predicted that when the time came for the government to make a decision on lifting lockdown in July, that SAGE would not support it.

Sir Charles said: “I suspect over the next four weeks, you’ll see a concerted effort from SAGE scientists… to argue that July the 19th is not the time to open up. If you can’t open up in the middle of Summer, it is very unlikely that as we enter the ‘flu season in the Autumn that we’ll be opening up then. So I’m very pessimistic.”