Sajid Javid pledges to meet July 19th lockdown goals

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The Times’ Science Editor Tom Whipple was invited onto Times Radio to discuss the latest with the UK’s vaccination programme and whether the population would still be required to isolate and submit regular tests after the July 19 reopening date. Mr Whipple said it was likely to see the current system in place until at least Spring 2022 as he said the Government wants to keep their infrastructure mobilised to respond to any coronavirus surges. The decision would mean travel quarantines are likely to remain in place for a longer than expected period as the current test and trace system monitors those entering and leaving the country.

Mr Whipple was asked whether the UK would experience perpetual testing and isolation for coronavirus even after the July 19 reopening date.

He replied: “I think we probably have to live with it into spring 2022.

“It’s a bit like the British Army at the end of the Second World War saying let’s keep a bit so we can deal with Korea or whatever.

“We have this huge infrastructure which is useful and whilst the pandemic is going on it makes a lot of sense to keep it mobilised.

“And we don’t know what the next variant is going to be.

“It seems highly likely, given what’s going on the rest of the world, there are going to be [variants] that are better at evading immunity.

“And it’s you know it’s a good idea to keep looking for them.

“Eventually, obviously we want to wind this down and we don’t want to be in a situation where we count every case of an endemic disease – I think the government is anticipating keeping it to at least next spring.

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Host Stig Abell moved on and looked at the rising reports many were still catching Covid despite having two vaccines.

BBC’s Andrew Marr revealed he still caught COVID-19 despite having both vaccines.

Mr Abell asked whether the role of the vaccine was to prevent coronavirus from spreading or to limit the damage it causes on individual sufferers.

Mr Whipple replied: “It is a way of stopping transmission, it is a way of being a lot safer if you do get it.

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“But the issue is that if you vaccinate an entire population, the only cases you’re going to get and your deaths you’re going to get are amongst people who are double vaccinated.

“That doesn’t mean that the vaccine isn’t working, it’s just an assumption of quite how many people are vaccinated.”

New Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons he saw “no reason” for any lockdown extension beyond July 19 in his first health outing.

Delays to the original June 21 were due to variants in the northeast of England taking a stronger hold with fears the dominant Delta Variant could avoid vaccine efforts. 

Manchester and other northern cities were given extra support to monitor cases of the variants. 

Germany has labelled the UK as a “variant country of concern” and has introduced mandatory two-week quarantines for anyone travelling from there.

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged other European Union members to follow suit and had the support of France. 

However, places like Greece and Spain who rely heavily on British tourists opposed the draconian plans.

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