June 21 is 'not great day of liberation PM making it out to be', expert tells LBC

28 March 2021, 12:22 | Updated: 28 March 2021, 12:41

By Kate Buck

An expert has warned June 21 "is not the great day of liberation the Prime Minister is making it out to be", as Brits look forward to the next round of lockdown easing on Monday.

Asked if scientists around Boris Johnson were being overly cautious with the slow rollout of relaxations in rules, leading sociologist Professor Robert Dingwall, who is also a member of NERVTAG, said at some point we need to "let the world get on with it".

Monday will see the next raft of lockdown easing, with the "rule of six" returning, allowing up to six people from up to two households to meet up outside to socialise.

It will be April 12 when shops are allowed to open once again, and pubs will be able to serve people outside.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Prof Dingwall told LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday: "I think theres a debate going on within the scientific policy community about to what extent can we roll out the vaccination programme and say ok, thats it we've taken out almost all the risks of dying from Covid, we've taken out all the risks of serious illness, and we'll just let the world get on with it, " he said.

Read more: Second vaccine doses are 'protected' in plans to deal with dip in supply

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"The politicians are taking a view of the risk of an upsurge in case without, as I'm suggesting, really recalibrating their expectations.

"As we move through the summer, as we move towards June I thin we've got to be really clear, June 21 is not going to be the great day of liberation that the Prime Minister is making it out to be.

Prof Robert Dingwall told Tom Swarbrick June 21 may not be the "great day of liberation"
Prof Robert Dingwall told Tom Swarbrick June 21 may not be the "great day of liberation". Picture: LBC

"We still have this talk of well we might want you to wear face coverings, we might demand vaccine passports, we might try and push on with social distancing, we will continue aggressive test and trace.

"All of these things which are incredibly disruptive and damaging to everyday life and society and which will cease to be justified in a largely vaccinated population."

But not everyone in the scientific community has agreed with him.

Read more: PM suggests workers have had enough 'days off' as government pushes return to work

Professor Martin Mckee, member of the Independent SAGE committee, said he wanted to see the number of new Covid-19 cases halve before more relaxations are allowed.

"We've got to remember we have variants of the virus which are showing some evidence of escaping from the vaccine in other parts of the world, " he told Tom.

"We don't know what's going to come round the corner, as long as this virus continues to replicated it's going to mutate and we have the risks associated with that.

"Also I have some problems with this characterisation of Covid being a very mild illness in a largely vaccinated population. First of all these figures we're talking about, the 50% of the population, is only the adults. We haven't talked about vaccinating children yet.

"The trials are underway but if we're going to reduce the spread then ultimately we're going to have to vaccinate all of the population.

Prof McKee also compared what is happening in other countries, saying that although Israel has been doing well in its vaccinations, there has been an upsurge of cases in children and seeing children who have been left seriously ill by the virus.