All over-50s in England could be fully protected against Covid by July 1 — nearly two weeks after ‘Freedom Day’ — but it could take until September for all adults to have had two jabs, MailOnline analysis has revealed.
The figures will boost calls for the Government to delay easing all restrictions on June 21 for a fortnight in order to ensure the most vulnerable members of society have all had time for both doses to have had an effect.
And it comes amid claims that science chiefs Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance have spooked No10 into pushing back plans for the total unlocking by up a month, citing fears of a third wave.
Experts say the vaccine forecast supports the case for a delay in reopening because one dose of vaccine can be as little as 30 per cent effective at blocking symptoms of the Indian coronavirus variant that is now dominant in the UK.
Cases are currently rising by around 40 per cent a week and new infections could be well above 15,000 a day by June 21 if the current pace of the outbreak continues, although it remains to be seen if the full vaccination of older Britons will keep hospital occupancy low.
But opponents of a postponement believe the vaccines have successfully broken the link between cases and hospitalisations, and argue the economic cost of a delay would be greater than that caused by a third wave this summer.
Ministers are waiting for clearer data on how effective jabs are against the Indian ‘Delta’ variant, as well as how much more transmissible the mutant strain is, before pressing ahead with any unlocking plans.
MailOnline analysis of official figures shows all people aged 50 and above could all have had their second vaccine dose by June 17, with a full immune response coming two weeks later.
But over-16s may not have received by their final inoculation until September 18, fueling concerns a surge in Covid infections caused by the Indian variant may result in a spike in deaths and hospitalisations among the unvaccinated.
And experts today told MailOnline the figures suggest the Government would be right to delay by two weeks in order to ensure all over-50s have had their second dose and are protected.
All over-50s in England could be fully protected against Covid by July 1 — nearly two weeks after ‘freedom day on June 21 — but it will take until September for all adults to have had two jabs, MailOnline analysis can reveal
Boris Johnson is expected to confirm by next Monday at the latest whether the June 21 plan will go ahead and it is looking increasingly unlikely.
The PM is running the roadmap timetable down to the wire, so far refusing to confirm whether he’s changed his mind. His spokesman said today: ‘We need to take the time as built into the roadmap to consider the data.’
MailOnline’s analysis shows that over-40s could all be given two doses by July 14, with over-30s being fully jabbed by August 11 and over-16s having both inoculations by September 18.
The analysis is based on Office for National Statistics population statistics and current vaccine numbers for each age group supplied by NHS England.
It assumes the rollout will continue at its current average daily pace of around 265,000 second doses a day, which would be dependent on both supply and uptake rates — which is assumed to be 100 per cent, which will be above the actual figure to varying degrees as the roll-out moves down the age categories.
The numbers suggest it will not be until October that all over-16s have full protection against Covid because of the time it takes for vaccines to kick in.
Weekly Covid deaths in England and Wales at the end of May fell to their lowest levels since before the pandemic took off last spring, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures revealed today
Dr Raghib Ali, an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge, told MailOnline the numbers suggest it would be sensible to delay easing lockdown to ensure all over-50s have had to time for the two doses to have taken effect.
He said: ‘Before the roadmap out of lockdown was set out, it was my position that some sort of tier one restrictions should be in place until all adults have had two doses.
‘I had hoped that would have been possible before June 21 but given the current data that clearly isn’t the case, though it doesn’t look too far off, but my position hasn’t changed.
‘Given it may not be until June 17 that all over-50s have had a second dose, delaying lockdown easing for a few weeks does make sense.
‘I’m not advocating for zero Covid or for restrictions to remain in place indefinitely but it does make sense to keep some restrictions in place to ensure the NHS doesn’t become overwhelmed.’
COVID INTENSIVE CARE BURDEN LIFTED: JUST 6 PEOPLE PER DAY ADMITTED IN MAY
An average of just six people per day were admitted to intensive care with Covid in May – a total of 169 patients across the UK.
The number marks a huge turn of fortunes since the winter when there were nearly 10,000 people taken into during January, the worst month of the UK’s epidemic.
The massive vaccine rollout, which has now given two doses to at least half of adults, the effects of lockdown and the use of potentially life-saving treatments have managed to force the virus into submission in many parts of the country.
While coronavirus patients made up three quarters of all critically ill patients in the UK in January, they now account for just one in five.
Department of Health data show 3,493 people were admitted to hospital in May and the 169 in ICU means just 4.8 per cent of people admitted to hospital ended up in intensive care. The number of patients in hospital overall – including non-ICU – is now just 2.5 per cent of what it was at the peak, with 932 compared to 39,249.
The South West, South East, East of England and Wales all had fewer than 10 people go into intensive care across the entire month – four, eight, six and two, respectively.
The percentage of people admitted to hospital who die has tumbled from almost half to just one in five
Covid patients (red) made up three quarters of all ICU patients in January but this has tumbled to just one in five
The discovery of drugs that can save people from dying of Covid have dramatically boosted survival rates in ICU, too, with the death rate halving to around 20 per cent from 45 per cent in the first wave, The Telegraph reports.
Medicines such as the steroid dexamethasone and arthritis drug tocilizumab have both helped to cut the risk of death for hospital patients since they were proven to work in June and January.
And early figures suggest the vaccines are keeping people out of the life support units. The average age of patients is falling and is now below 50, showing older double-jabbed age groups are benefiting from protection. Admission rates are also higher in groups less likely to have been vaccinated – more than half of patients are now from non-white ethnic groups, whom separate data yesterday showed were least likely to have taken up the jab offer. Previously, white people had made up a majority of patients but widespread vaccination may be protecting them.
ICU data are reported in the regular Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre report.
He added: ‘While current vaccination levels are keeping death numbers low, we are seeing people in their 30s and 40s being checked into hospital and some in intensive care.
‘Opening up too early could see these numbers become overwhelming, depending on the Indian variant’s herd immunity threshold.
‘Also if opening up too early only to impose harsher restrictions forces children out of schools for any longer than they already have been, that would not be acceptable.
‘Finally, a surge in cases has already seen levels of concern in the public increase which would not be beneficial economically if it was to increase because restrictions had been eased. So I think delaying for a few weeks makes sense.’
And Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, agreed that the data suggests delaying lockdown easing by two weeks would make sense.
He said: ‘June 17 for all over-50s to have had both doses does seem realistic. And I think they are going to delay June 21 because it takes two weeks for those vaccines to kick in and over-50s are going to be the most important to get done.
‘I was fairly early in the late-40s contingent to get my first jab and I’m not booked in for my second until July 12, so I think July 14 looks a huge task to get everyone in that age group vaccinated. I’d take that date with a pinch of salt.
‘But I would strongly expect all under 16s to be vaccinated by mid-September — or all those who want it at any rate.’
Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, told MailOnline it is ‘much better to stick to data, in this case the proportion of the adult population that are fully vaccinated’ than be concerned with dates.
He said: ‘Israel started easing from lockdown over a month ago based on the levels of vaccination and now, with more than 90 per cent of people aged 50 or over fully vaccinated or recovered from the virus, have removed almost all restrictions.
‘There are now no limits on either indoor or outdoor gatherings but indoor wearing of facemasks is still required — although likely to be lifted very soon.
‘Delaying “Freedom Day” on June 21 is inevitable given the spread of the delta virus variant. It was always unlikely that at the turn of midnight on June 21st all restrictions would be removed.
‘Much better to push ahead with the vaccination programme, keep an eye of the daily cases of infections and hospitalisations, and slowly release from lockdown.’
Despite big hopes that the vaccine will protect people from the new variant, Matt Hancock said it will still take weeks to find out for sure whether it does.
He said evidence that they worked was ‘absolutely critical’ for Britain to be able to stop living under threat of lockdown rules.
Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons the Health Secretary said the jabs are breaking through the previously ‘rock solid’ link between infections and hospital admissions and deaths, but exactly how well they work still isn’t for certain.
Asked how effectively the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines cut the risk of hospitalisation for the Delta variant Mr Hancock said: ‘There is not yet a conclusive figure.
‘I spoke to Dr Mary Ramsay, who runs this research at Public Health England, this morning and she told me that this figure is currently being worked on and this analysis [is] being done scientifically, and should be available in the forthcoming couple of weeks.
‘It’s obviously an absolutely critical figure and I’ll report it to the House [of Commons] as soon as we have it.’
But talks of delaying lockdown have led to some MPs calling for the Government to commit to June 21 as the date on which all restrictions are eased, including
They argue all people in the JCVI’s top nine priority groups — which includes all over-50s — should have now been offered a second vaccine, because it has been eight weeks since April 13, when all had been offered a first dose.
The Government reduced the wait for second doses from 12 weeks to eight on June 5 due to concerns around the Indian variant.
Former Brexit Secretary and deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group Steve Baker said: ‘It’s great to hear from the Health Secretary that vaccines continue to break the link between infections and hospitalisations and deaths.
‘The Health Secretary confirmed that available evidence demonstrates that two doses give 90 to 95 per cent protection against hospitalisation and 95 to 99 per cent protection against death. The vaccines are working and the NHS has done a fantastic job.
‘The JCVI identified nine groups of people who are most vulnerable to Covid and these groups include all over 50s and everyone under the age of 50 who has an underlying health condition. These groups represent about 99 per cent of Covid deaths and about 80 per cent of hospitalisations.
‘As of today, according to announcements made by the Government, these groups should all have been offered a chance to have had a second dose. It would be helpful for the Government to clarify that this has been achieved.
‘If this brilliant milestone isn’t enough to convince ministers that we need to lift all remaining restrictions – especially social distancing requirements — on 21 June, nothing will ever get us out of this.
‘Not only is this the last chance for all those industries that make life worth living like hospitality, live entertainment and tourism, it’s time for us to reconnect with family and friends and to regain our mental health.
‘Being social is key to being well so by 21 June at the latest, Britain must meet again, must be reunited in every sense, and we must start healing the broken bonds of the last year with social contact and normal human interaction.’