Govt Scientist’s ‘Third Wave’ Comments Spark Freedom Day Delay Reports

A protestor displays an anti-vax placard during a 'Unite For Freedom' march against Covid-19 vaccinations and government lockdown restrictions, in Trafalgar Square, central London on May 29, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
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While coronavirus cases and deaths in the United Kingdom are now a fraction of what they were during the winter, a government scientist has warned he sees signs of a coming “third wave”, leading to a rush of media speculation on whether the nation’s lockdown will actually end next month as planned.

New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) member Professor Ravindra Gupta made his remarks on the BBC on Monday morning, warning that the so-called “third wave” of coronavirus infections generally associated with European nations appeared to be coming to Britain.

The government is planning to end lockdown on June 21st, but this date may be too soon and should be passed over, Professor Gupta said, because the immunisation programme is not quite complete. The Daily Telegraph reports his comments: “I think that people are not saying we should abandon the June 21 date altogether but just to delay it by a few weeks while we gather more intelligence and we can look at the trajectory in a clearer way.

“If you look at the costs and benefits of getting it wrong, I think it is heavily in favour of delay, so I think that’s the key thing. Yes, we will learn to live with it but this date that was set did not take into account the fact we would have a new variant on the horizon, with properties that allow it to evade antibodies to some extent and a virus which is more transmissible.”

Until now, the presence of a new wave of corona infections in Europe but not in Britain has been credited to the differential in vaccination progress. Brexit Britain has proven itself months ahead of the European Commission’s vaccine acquisition programme, but now Professor Gupta’s comments suggest that even the United Kingdom’s progress isn’t enough.

Perhaps in anticipation of differing points of view, given the low level of cases and deaths from coronavirus in the United Kingdom, Gupta argued that the British vaccination success was giving a “false sense of security”. He told the BBC: “Of course the numbers of cases are relatively low at the moment — all waves start with low numbers of cases that grumble in the background and then become explosive, so the key here is that what we are seeing here is the signs of an early wave.

“It will probably take longer than earlier waves to emerge because of the fact that we do have quite high levels of vaccination in the population, so there may be a false sense of security for some time, and that’s our concern.”

Britain’s media have reacted with interest to the interview, amplifying Professor Gupta’s comments about delaying the end of lockdown. The story dominated the news front page of the BBC itself on Monday morning, while the left-leaning Guardian reported: “End of England Covid lockdown on 21 June increasingly in doubt”.

The paper also cited government minister George Eustice, who spoke on the same subject on Monday and blamed unvaccinated “young people” socialising in the warm weather for the uptick in cases. In terms of whether Boris Johnson’s government would give the country its freedom back in June or not, Eustice said the government would rule nothing out.

In any case, the decision wouldn’t be made until early June, he added.

Government-adjacent broadsheet the Daily Telegraph hailed the story, but also claimed in their exclusive lead story that — in yet another in a long line of U-turns and vacillations on the subject — domestic Covid passports banning the unvaccinated from attending some public places would not be going ahead after all. Citing unnamed but “well-placed” government sources, the paper said the plan was dead in the water.

The paper said their source had told them, after practical and ethical concerns, that: “No one is talking about it still as a potential thing … It has been killed off really.”

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