South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay is one of 63 MPs to sign a letter to say there would be ‘no justification’ for any legislative restrictions on public life to remain once all nine priority groups – meaning all those over 50 and those who are clinically vulnerable – have received a covid vaccination by the end of April.
The letter sent to Prime Minster Boris Johnson yesterday (February 13) is from the Covid Recovery Group – made up of Conservative MPs who opposed the UK government’s decision to introduce a second period of lockdown.
In the letter the MPs say it is a national priority to open schools by March 8 and pubs and restaurants should be opened – covid secure – by Easter.
The group say that by March 8 people in the top four risk groups will have received vaccination and as they “account for about 88% of deaths and about 55% of hospitalisations” remaining restrictions should be “proportionate to the harm Covid is by then capable of causing.”
The top 4 priority cohorts include care home residents and staff, frontline health and social care workers, anyone aged 70 or over and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
The letter says: “Covid is a serious disease and we must control it. However, just like covid, lockdowns and restrictions cause immense social and health damage and have a huge impact on people’s livelihoods.
“The vaccine gives us immunity from covid, but it must also give us permanent immunity from covid-related lockdowns and restrictions.”
It adds: “Your roadmap must demonstrate how the vaccination roll out translates into a return to normal life.”
The group say they have concerns about businesses in leisure and personal care, events, weddings and care home visits.
They say that once the nine priority groups have been vaccinated this would account for those that represent 99% of covid deaths and 80% of covid hospitalisations.
The group end by saying: “The vaccine gives us immunity from covid but it must also give us permanent immunity from covid-related lockdowns and restrictions.”
The roadmap, due to be announced in the week of February 22, will lay out how government plans to ease the current national restrictions with came into force on January 5.
In January the PM said: “We will set out the results of the review and publish our plan for taking the country out of lockdown,” although he added this will be dependent on the vaccination programme going to plan and the rate of hospital cases and deaths being reduced.
It is planned for a gradual phasing to reduce restrictions but the first step will be reopening schools with an earliest target date of March 8. Economic and social restriction easing will follow.
People in the UK vaccinated up to and including 12 February are:
First dose: 14,556,827
Second dose: 534,869
The government has committed to offering the vaccine to all those over 50 by May and all adults by September.
However, these target dates are for the first dose of the vaccine not both doses, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News it would be: “the first milestone towards the wider plan to get 99 percent of those at risk of dying vaccinated with a first dose by the end of April, and then everyone in the country… by the autumn.”
The Estimated R number for the UK is now between 0.7 to 0.9 . The R rate is the number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, on average. If the R value is higher than one, then the number of cases increases.
But if the R number is lower the disease will eventually stop spreading, because not enough new people are being infected to sustain the outbreak.
The UK seven-day rolling rate as of 9 February of positive tests was 158.7 per 100,000 people, with positive tests down 27% on the previous seven days.
In Thanet the positive test seven day rolling rate is 109.2. Government data shows positive test rates were down 52% on the preceding seven days. This is a vast reduction on rates on December 20 which stood at 639 per 100,000.
There were 178 patients in East Kent Hospitals with coronavirus on February 9 and of these 28 coronavirus patients were in hospital beds with a mechanical ventilator.
There have been 414 deaths in Thanet of people who had a positive covid test within 28 days.