UK won't follow US in easing restrictions for vaccinated people, MPs told

28 April 2021, 14:00

Fully vaccinated people can enjoy fewer restrictions in the US after official advice was given out
Fully vaccinated people can enjoy fewer restrictions in the US after official advice was given out. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

The UK will not follow the US in allowing fully vaccinated people to enjoy more freedoms because "in this country... we tend to do everything together", MPs have been told.

Population density in the UK and the amount of people who have had a second jab are also factors, Dr Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), said.

Official US advice states that two to three weeks after a patient has their second Covid vaccine dose, they can meet indoors with other vaccinated people without having to keep their distance.

Read more: Single Covid jab 'cuts transmission by up to half', new PHE study suggests

Read more: Quarter of UK adults have now received two doses of coronavirus vaccine

Dr Ramsay told the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: "I think they are able to be less cautious, perhaps, than us because of the fact that more people have had two doses, which one would expect to get even better protection against transmission.

"Our data is now coming through showing that even one dose is very good, so I think we can begin to look at those factors and we are looking at those factors.

"I think the other thing is we have a slightly different cultural perspective in this country in that we tend to do everything together.

"We are trying to say that this is about the population as a whole rather than the individuals, those privileged individuals who have had two doses, being somehow able to do things that other people cannot."

Read more: Coronavirus vaccines now being offered to people aged 42 and over

She added that while specific advice could be given to individuals, the set approach is to move forward as a whole population instead of "picking out" people.

The committee's chairman, Greg Clark, asked if the decision was taken for sociological reasons, as opposed to medical ones.

"I think the United States says it has to be at least two or three weeks after your second dose before you can release those restrictions, and we're only really just reaching that now," Dr Ramsay said.

"We started vaccinating second doses really towards the end of April, so it is very early.

"But I think the road map and the policy decision which has been taken by Government, not by PHE, is about doing everything as a whole."

A future roadmap may "pick out individuals", she added.

In the UK, at least 33 million people have been given a first dose of a vaccine and more than 13 million have received their second.

Of the estimated 328 million people in the US, 141 million have been given a first dose and more than 96 million are considered fully vaccinated.