Britons fear the fruits of their vaccination miracle | Free press

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London (dpa) – Island of the Blessed: In Great Britain, the corona pandemic seemed almost over after the huge success of the vaccination campaign. The results are impressive: more than two-thirds of adults have been vaccinated for the first time and more than a third have already been fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in February that the country would return to normal “gently but irreversibly”. According to the plan, all corona measures should be lifted by June 21, at least in most of the UK part of the country, England.

But there is now doubt whether the easing schedule can be adhered to. Local outbreaks of the Indian virus variant B.1.617.2, which led to a drastic wave of infections and deaths in the Asian subcontinent, are causing unrest among the British. The renowned expert body SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), which advises the government, fears that the Indian variety could be up to 50 percent more contagious than the so-called British mutant B.1.1.7 that has so far prevailed in Britain. up to now. Around 1,300 cases have been registered in the UK so far, but the number had nearly tripled within a week. Experts believe the variant will soon establish itself as dominant in the country.

The federal government had again designated the United Kingdom as a corona risk area due to the action of the variant on Friday. And this even though Great Britain currently has relatively few cases within a week with a nationwide seven-day incidence of about 24 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. So far, no increased hospitalizations or deaths have been recorded in the affected areas. There is therefore hope that the vaccinations will at least protect against serious diseases with the mutated pathogen.

First of all, London wants to stick to easing according to plan. As of this Monday, meetings of up to six people in private households should once again be possible in England. Indoor restaurants, theaters, cinemas and museums can again receive guests. Even trips abroad are sometimes allowed without conditions.

But if fears of B.1.617.2’s higher portability turn out to be true, the timetable for further opening steps could be stalled, Prime Minister Johnson warned Friday. The government only wants to decide a week in advance whether normalcy can return to normal, as planned, on June 21.

If it doesn’t work, Johnson’s recent pandemic positive balance could turn negative again. Over the weekend, voices accused the prime minister of being too slow again. It wasn’t until April 23 that the rules for travelers from India were drastically tightened – just three weeks after Pakistan and Bangladesh were placed on the red list of virus-variant areas that require hotel quarantine upon entry. But by then, according to the Sunday Times, at least 20,000 people had already entered the country, possibly carrying the virus.

Critics see a connection to a planned trip to India by the Prime Minister, which Johnson actually wanted to use to advance plans for a trade deal with India – one of the most important Brexit promises. It was only after much hesitation that Johnson finally canceled the trip on April 19, and even then it took several days for the tightened guidelines to take effect. “It seems Boris Johnson prefers pursuing a trade deal with India over public health,” Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran criticized.