British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday delayed by a month his plans to lift the last COVID-19 restrictions in England after modelling showed that thousands more people might die due unless reopening was pushed back.
The move was due to the rapid spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, which is more transmissible, associated with lower vaccine effectiveness against mild disease and could cause more hospitalisations in the unvaccinated.
Models commissioned by the government showed that without a delay to the planned June 21 reopening, in some scenarios hospitalisations could match previous peaks in cases when ministers feared the health system could be overwhelmed.
Britain has one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world, with over half of adults receiving both doses and more than three quarters receiving at least one, which has led some to question why restrictions need to be extended.
As Johnson announced the postponement, Public Health England published data showing shots made by Pfizer (PFE.N) and AstraZeneca (AZN.L) offer high protection against hospitalisation from the variant identified in India of 96% and 92% respectively after two doses. read more
Are we seeing the difference between the lab (the vaccines work against this variant) and the real world (the virus is smarter than humans)?
Separately, can we infer anything about our future based on the English experience? If the variant virus is overpowering the vaccinated herd in the U.K., should we expect a raging plague here by the fall (with associated lockdowns, mask orders, etc., in Church of Shutdown states)?