Boris Johnson and his government have come under serious fire over the course of the pandemic because of their response (or sometimes lack of) to the severity of rising cases of COVID-19. Now that a new variant of the virus has been discovered, and its transmission rate is faster than the original variant, there is one crucial stage that the government must aim towards next.
That stage is vaccinating a significant part of the population quickly.
As the new variant can increase transmission of Coronavirus up to 70%, it can also increase the R number. This is the rate of transmission you’ll have heard the scientists talking about on the news. We have to keep the R number under 1 in order to have a chance of managing the virus. Currently, our R number in the UK is between 1.1 and 1.2. Therefore the new variant, which can increase the R number by 0.4, is a serious threat to the spread of the country.
So far, there is no evidence that the vaccine will be any less effective, but it does mean that the vaccine is all the more necessary. If we are to have any chance of getting out of this state of half-lockdown to full lockdown by Easter, as per the government’s aims, we will need the vaccine to be rolled out massively and at great pace.
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The next stage of fighting this pandemic is rolling out and rapidly ramping up the number of patients across the whole nation being vaccinated. Remember, they must be vaccinated twice and overall, it takes around a month to build up the immunity provided by the Pfizer jab.
Given that the government failed rather spectacularly with the initial demands of the pandemic – with PPE built up in storage containers, unable to be used; and the failure to get an efficient testing system up and running – it will certainly be interesting to see if Johnson & Co. are up to the job of delivering at the next crucial stage.