Proposals to scrap quarantine requirements for those who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine are under “consideration”, the Government has confirmed.
Downing Street said it was looking at whether to drop all legal self-isolation measures for fully vaccinated people who come into contact with someone who is infected “as part of the post-Step 4 world”.
It comes after The Times reported that a meeting of the Covid operations committee will take place on Monday at which ministers are expected to sign off a plan that will mean those who have been double-jabbed will be “advised”, after so-called “freedom day” on July 19, to take daily tests but not be required to do so.
A scientific adviser, however, said the problems associated with such an exemption “outweigh the potential benefits” and warned that it could cause “resentment”.
Professor Robert West, a health psychologist who is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which advises Sage, told Times Radio: “The most serious problem is that if you have a situation where not everyone has been even offered the vaccine then you’ve already got clearly a huge unfairness.
“When you get unfairness in situations like this, you get resentment and when you get resentment you can get loss of compliance.”
But Prof West’s assertion has been challenged by other medical experts who said it would be “perfectly OK” to allow those who are fully inoculated more freedoms.
Dr Bharat Pankhania, a senior clinical lecturer in communicable diseases at the University of Exeter, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that vaccines were breaking the link between cases, hospital admissions and deaths, meaning “we can start thinking about other uncoupling measures, such as no need to quarantine after being fully immunised”.
Epidemiologist Professor Christophe Fraser, who advised the Department of Health on test and trace, said a “midway” proposal could be that those who have received both jabs are tested every day instead of undertaking a quarantine period.
The Oxford University academic said he agreed the self-isolation policy “needs to be reviewed in light of the data on the vaccine effectiveness”.
The debate about extra rights for those who have been vaccinated is playing out amid a background of an “alarming” rise in Covid-19 cases in England.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that about one in 260 people in private households in England had Covid in the week to June 26 – up from one in 440 in the previous week and the highest level since the week to February 27.