Have your say: Will national lockdown work in lowering COVID cases?

Ellen Manning
·3-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 07: The streets are left empty on Brick Lane on January 7, 2021 in London, England. For the third time, England was asked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to remain at home for a nationwide lockdown due to a spike in cases of coronavirus across the country. A new high of 60,000 new cases of the virus were reported in a single day on Wednesday as fears that the rate of new infections would overwhelm the National Health Service. (Photo by Alex McBride/Getty Images)
Critics have questioned whether the national lockdown will actually work in lowering COVID cases. (Getty)

As the country moves towards the end of the first week of the latest national coronavirus lockdown, Boris Johnson has pledged an unprecedented national effort to roll out vaccines across the UK.

But as efforts to roll out the vaccine continue, critics have questioned whether the current lockdown will actually work in lowering COVID cases.

In a Twitter thread Christina Pagel, Professor of Operational Research and Director of the Clinical Operational Research Unit at UCL wrote: “We're starting several weeks of lockdown in England while we try to vaccinate as many vulnerable people as possible.

“Every day more stories drop about the terrible situation in hospitals. The thing is, I'm not sure lockdown will be enough...”

She went on: “Last spring, we got R down to 0.6-0.7, cases & hospital admissions dropped steadily. Hospital occupancy peaked 3 weeks after lockdown. Even that will place unbearable strain on NHS.

“But this isn't March's virus and this isn't (despite what govt is saying) March's lockdown.”

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In the thread, Pagel outlined differences to the current lockdown and that of March 2020, including childcare and support bubbles, the fact more children are in school, and a less rigorous following of social distancing.

She called for workplaces to be safer, a plan to vaccinate the whole population after vulnerable groups and for border controls.

She added: “All of this needs to happen together. And all of it needs to happen together now if lockdown is to work and (potentially!) be eased before spring...

“I fear that the govt will ignore supported isolation & safer workspaces and that this will mean that at best this lockdown brings R to about 1.

“The NHS just will not be able to cope with such high sustained burden on its health system and many thousands more will lose their lives. Waiting until vaccination starts to have an affect is weeks and weeks away. The next few weeks will be very very tough.”

In a briefing on Thursday, Boris Johnson said almost 1.5 million people have now been vaccinated against the disease and the Government intends to give everyone in care homes a jab by the end of January.

On Thursday, GP surgeries across England received their first doses of the Oxford vaccine and began administering them to patients.

Johnson said: “Let’s be clear, this is a national challenge on a scale like nothing we’ve seen before and it will require an unprecedented national effort.

“Of course, there will be difficulties, appointments will be changed but… the Army is working hand in glove with the NHS and local councils to set up our vaccine network and using battle preparation techniques to help us keep up the pace.”

The Prime Minister said “if all goes well”, hundreds of thousands of vaccines can be administered per day by January 15 and “it is our plan that everyone should have a vaccination available within a radius of 10 miles”.

At the Downing Street press conference, NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said there will be a “huge acceleration” in the vaccination programme over the coming weeks.

“We need a huge acceleration if we are, over the next five weeks, going to vaccinate more people than we typically vaccinate over five months during a winter flu programme,” he said.

The “bulk” of the vaccinations will be carried out at GP surgeries and pharmacies, he said, but that the number of hospital hubs and large-scale vaccination centres were also being increased.

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