Nobody is calling for Covid ‘plan B’, claims Boris Johnson despite medical leaders’ pleas

Public urged not to be ‘overconfident about their level of immunity’ by spurning a booster jab

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Saturday 30 October 2021 23:38
<p>Asked to guarantee a good Christmas, Mr Johnson said no lockdown ‘is on the cards’ </p>

Asked to guarantee a good Christmas, Mr Johnson said no lockdown ‘is on the cards’

Boris Johnson has claimed no one wants his Covidplan B“ to be implemented now – despite a chorus of pleas from medical leaders for immediate restrictions.

“Absolutely everybody” agrees there is no need to move to tougher curbs despite high infection rates, except “possibly the Labour Party”, the prime minister insisted.

The claim came as Mr Johnson urged people not to be “overconfident about their level of immunity” by spurning the opportunity of a pre-winter booster jab.

Asked if he could guarantee a good Christmas, the prime minister – speaking at the G20 summit in Rome – said: “I see no evidence whatever to think that any kind of lockdown is on the cards.”

Earlier this month, hospital and doctors’ leaders urged ministers to move to plan B – compulsory mask-wearing, Covid passes for crowded events and working from home – to avert a looming disaster for the NHS.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “It is time for the government to enact plan B of its strategy without delay because without pre-emptive action, we risk stumbling into a winter crisis.

“We are right on the edge – and it is the end of October. It would require an incredible amount of luck for us not to find ourselves in the midst of a profound crisis over the next three months.”

The head of the British Medical Association echoed the warning, branding the government’s refusal to take further preventative action “wilfully negligent”.

Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the advisory Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours, warned further lockdowns could not be ruled out.

Since then case rates have dropped slightly, but the number of deaths topped 1,000 a week and experts say the future path of the pandemic is very hard to predict.

Mr Johnson told journalists: “Yes it’s true that cases are high, but they do not currently constitute any reason to go to plan B.

“I think that’s agreed among absolutely everybody – apart from possibly the Labour Party.

“So we are sticking with the plan and I think, rather than thinking new restrictions, the best thing everybody can do is get that booster jab as soon as you’re offered it.”

Calling it “a very important message”, the prime minister added: “I think people don’t quite realise that the first two jabs do start to wane. There is a waning effect on the first two.

“How sad, how tragic it would be if people who had other complications, other compromises in their health, got seriously ill because they were overconfident about their level of immunity and didn’t get their booster when they needed it.”

The latest figures show coronavirus infections in England have increased to the same levels as at the height of the second wave in January, with one in 50 people having the virus last week.

That amounts to about 1.1 million people and a rise on the week before, when about one in 55 people in England were thought to have Covid.

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