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Hospital admissions ‘would have matched first wave’ if Freedom Day went ahead

Experts feared going ahead with step four of the road map could lead to hospital admissions on the scale of the first wave (Picture: Mark Thomas/Shutterstock)

Pushing ahead with the lifting of all lockdown restrictions on June 21 could have led to a surge in hospital admissions equal to that seen last spring, Government scientists believe.

Boris Johnson has delayed the end of England’s coronavirus controls by up to four weeks amid concern over the rapidly spreading Delta variant first identified in India.

Experts feared going ahead with step four of the road map could lead to hospital admissions on the scale of the first wave of Covid-19, heaping unsustainable pressure on the health service.

To avert that danger, Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference that it is ‘sensible to wait just a little longer’ as he put back the end of all legal limits on social contact to July 19.

It is hoped that the delay for easing restrictions will mean that around two-thirds of adults will have been offered both doses of vaccine by then.

It comes as a new PHE study found that unvaccinated people have twice the risk of hospital admission with the Delta variant as the Alpha variant.

PHE’s study of hospital admissions found that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 94% effective against hospital admission after just one dose, rising to 96% after two doses.

And the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is 71% effective against hospital admission after just one dose, rising to 92% after two doses.

Firefighters Dan Joslin (C), Tom Ventress (L) and Matt Smither (2R) help prone a Covid-19 patient as they work alongside critical care nurses in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, southern England on March 23, 2021. - Personnel from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service have been supporting medics in four of the region's hospitals. The partnership began in January following a request for support from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum. Since then, 27 firefighters have been deployed to work a total of 396 shifts. Since the start of the pandemic, personnel from across Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Services have been helping in a variety of ways. This has included driving ambulances, training to become vaccinators at centres in both counties, responding to life-threatening medical emergencies as part of an enhanced co-responder service and performing other tasks to help the community. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference that it is ‘sensible to wait just a little longer’ (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Protection against death is also expected to be high, but further work is underway to confirm this, PHE said.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘Spi-M modelling suggests if we were to go ahead with step four on Monday there’s a possibility of hospitalisations around the peak of the first wave.

‘But vaccine effectiveness especially after two doses means thousands more deaths can be prevented if people are jabbed.

‘By reducing the dosing interval for over 40s from 12 weeks to eight weeks, all over 40s who received a first dose by mid-May will have been offered their second dose by week commencing July 19. By July 19 cohorts 1-9 will have been offered a second dose and over 18s will have been offered a first dose.

‘This will mean around two-thirds of adults will have been offered two doses, reducing the risk of hospitalisations and deaths.’

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