THERE are four key numbers behind the wait to unlock Britain – with experts and ministers convinced it could be scheduled for July 5.
Vaccine reach, hospitalisations, new variant and rising cases are what everyone is keeping their eyes on.
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Britain is awaiting Freedom Day, with ministers hoping it will come sooner than July 19Credit: LNP
Boris Johnson is set to announce on Monday if he plans to bring the lift earlier to July 5.
Professor Neil Ferguson, nicknamed Professor Lockdown, thinks the data looks “encouraging”.
Asked whether restrictions should end on July 5, he said: “I’m busy analysing the data to provide a more conclusive picture to government to make that decision, but the overall picture is encouraging.”
He added: “As we expected, we are seeing rises in case numbers across the country, but they have slowed slightly compared with a couple of weeks ago.
“We’re also seeing rises in hospitalisations and deaths but again they’re at a much lower level than previously, demonstrating the high effectiveness of vaccines.”
And former Cabinet minister Liam Fox wants the Government to move faster.
He told the Daily Mail: “All along we have been told it is about data, not dates.
“We need to look at that data, and if we can relax earlier – and get some of those industries like weddings and travel moving earlier – then we should.”
The PM was poring over crucial data yesterday ahead of giving his crunch verdict next week.
He is likely to crush hopes of bringing forward Freedom Day and stick with his “terminus date” of July 19.
But what are the “four tests” he and ministers will consider ahead of deciding if July 5 is the date to unlock?
1. Vaccine reach
The vaccine rollout has been hugely successful for the UK.
As of today 43,148,843 first doses of a Covid jab have been administered, and 31,489,240 people are now double-jabbed.
Almost 60 per cent of the adult population are now fully protected.
These numbers are good and look promising for the unlock, especially as all adults have now been offered the jab – which was the original aim.
One dose of a vaccine is only 33 per cent effective, but two is between 66 and 88 per cent effective.
The Government shortened the gap between doses from 12 weeks to eight in order to speed up the process.
2. Hospital numbers
The second test is “evidence vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated”.
There is a wealth of data to show that jabs are, indeed, bringing down the number of people suffering severe disease, including deaths.
Hospital numbers have risen over June, with 225 new inpatients each day.
Around 1,370 people are currently in hospital with Covid, which is higher than a few weeks ago.
But the number hasn’t rocketed as the Delta variant spread and cases rose – which is a clear sign the NHS is unlikely to be overwhelmed in the final unlocking stage and vaccines are working.
Inpatient numbers are still well below the second-wave peak, when the number of patients reached a record high average of 33,594 on January 22.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the vaccine was breaking a “rock solid” link between infections and hospital admissions.
3. Rising infections
Cases have risen in line with the spread of the Delta variant, first spotted in India.
But the daily cases have not rocketed as quickly as the Alpha variant did, suggesting the vaccine is working there too.
New cases each day have remained around 10,000 despite the spike – very low compared to the peak of around 80,000 daily cases at the end of December.
And with 81.9 per cent of UK adults having had one jab, they are more protected against serious illness and less likely to transmit the virus – although it’s best to have two vaccines.
So this, too, is looking encouraging for unlocking Britain.
4. New variants
The latest Public Health England data revealed infections of the Delta variant – which caused the original date of June 21 to be shelved – have increased to more than 76,000.
And a new “Delta Plus” Covid variant “more transmissible” than the original has been detected in the UK.
Around 41 cases of the mutated variant have been found in the country, after first being reported in India.
But WHO special envoy Dr David Nabarro on Sky Dr Nabarro said today variants that could threaten the vaccine will just become a part of our lives.
He said: “That issue of variants is what we are watching all over the world. They are going to go on coming – we will go from Delta to Lamda and then onto the other Greek letters.
“That’s inevitable. Some of those variants will be troublesome, they will be able to break through vaccine-related protection in a few people and that will cause problems.
“I’m basically saying variants are going to go on coming. That’s part of life.”
The PM’s spokesperson said: “Monday will be the day when we were deciding on the decision on that and we are closely monitoring the data, ahead of providing a full update.
“We will set out very clearly to the public, the rationale for the decision we’ve made.”
Critics are calling on him to open up as soon as possible now the vulnerable are double vaccined and protected.