BRITAIN is heading for another third lockdown if all restrictions are lifted this month, experts have warned.
Furious doctors lamented the NHS is “already broken” – as they fear more hospitalisations to come as cases rise with the spread of the Delta variant.
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And grim predictions have been made of 10,000 extra deaths by October, by fierce opponents of July 19th’s Freedom Day.
Experts gathered for an “emergency summit” this morning, to discuss the ditching of masks, social distancing and other safety measures that have been in place since last year.
It comes after they joined dozens of doctors and scientists blasting the plans to unlock as a “dangerous and unethical experiment”, in a letter to the Government.
Cases are still rising in the UK and while vaccines do help protect against serious illness and death, people are still ending up in hospital with the virus.
Experts fear the NHS will struggle to cope if cases hit the predicted 100-120,000-a-day in just a few weeks.
Even if vaccines stop the majority of people getting sick enough to need medical care, just one per cent of 100,000 would see 1,000 daily admissions to wards.
Yesterday Britain recorded 32,548 daily Covid cases – the highest figure since January and deaths have increased by 33, bringing the total to 128,301.
It marks the highest increase in cases since January 23 when 33,522 infections were recorded.
‘WATCHED IN SHOCK’
In the letter in the Lancet, 122 scientists and doctors claim the government’s strategy of mass infection at a point when only half the UK population is fully vaccinated will lead to “both acute and long-term illness”.
And with thousands suffering with long Covid there is huge concern many more people will develop the condition as cases increase among the young.
It is thought around ten per cent of people with the virus go on to have long Covid. So it could be that 10,000 people a day are developing the debilitating condition if 100,000 cases per day are reached, they warned.
It is especially rife in the young who won’t be fully protected with two jabs when restrictions lift.
Dr Deepti Gurdasani, an epidemiologist and senior lecturer at Queen Mary University, said: “This will create a generation blighted by a virus they could be vaccinated from in a matter of weeks.
“It’s effectively giving up on trying to control the pandemic at all. We could so easily hold out for a few weeks more so we could vaccinate and protect so many more people.”
She also warned the country would end up in another strict lockdown if we ditch all restrictions, saying “it’s already very late” to turn the tide.
The expert added: “We are not at the end of the line. We have seen mutations emerge that are more transmissible and there is absolutely no reason to think that will not keep happening.”
Dr Kailash Chand, the honorary vice president of the British Medical Association, said: “The NHS is not at breaking point. It’s broken.
“In the healthcare service we have watched in shock as the government completely lifts all restrictions.
“Worryingly we are seeing more and more young people needing care, our long Covid units are filling up.”
Professor Isabella Eckerle, a virologist and co-head of the Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases at the Geneva University Hospitals and the University of Geneva said the unlocking it would provide an “open door” for the emergence of new variants.
Dr Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, said: “Contrary to the statements of government scientists, there is no scientific consensus over the government’s current plans to remove protective mandates on July 19. Instead, there is deep disagreement.
“Many scientists are sincerely concerned that with sub-optimal double-vaccination numbers and rapidly rising transmission rates, we are at a very dangerous moment in the pandemic.
“Removing mandates on July 19 will not only accelerate virus transmission, with substantial increased levels of acute illness, hospitalisation, and long Covid, but also create the conditions for the emergence of new variants that could escape vaccine protection.
Backlog in the NHS:
By Sam Blanchard
NHS waiting lists have hit an all-time high, with 5.3million people now waiting for treatment – as hospital bosses warned needless self-isolation rules pose a major threat.
Medics are dealing with a huge backlog caused by the pandemic, and the number of people going to A&E soared to 2.16million last month – 50 per cent more than this time last year.
NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said forcing fully vaccinated healthcare staff to self-isolate could cause the health service to “overflow”.
Chief exec Chris Hopson said: “We’re going full-pelt on recovering care backlogs, with many trusts saying they saw record levels of daily demand in June.
“We’ve also got 10 per cent fewer beds in the NHS at the moment because of infection control measures.
“But as community infection rates of Covid rise, we’ve got more and more staff who are having to self-isolate.
“If the river is full and the ground is sodden, all you need is a few extra cases of Covid and that river will start to overflow.”
“The government plan is not, as some have characterised it, a reasonable gamble—it is an entirely unnecessary and self-inflicted hazard that will cause real harm to health.”
Millions of vaccines have been rolled out across the UK to protect people from Covid and the Prime Minister announced this week everyone under 40 could now get their second jab eight weeks after their first.
The PM said the aim is that “everyone over 18 should be double jabbed by the middle of September”.
He said this is on top of the autumn programme of booster jabs for the most vulnerable.
Mr Johnson said on Monday: “This pandemic is far from over, it certainly won’t be over by the 19th.
“We are seeing cases rise fairly rapidly, there could be 50,000 cases detected per day by the 19th and as we predicted we are seeing rising hospital admissions, and we must reconcile ourselves to more deaths from Covid.
“There’s only one reason why we can contemplate going ahead to step 4… and that’s because of the continuing effectiveness of the vaccine rollout.
“Every adult will have had the chance to have 1 dose and two thirds will have had the chance to have two.”