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Sure, the variety of Covid instances within the UK is rising – however that’s no trigger for alarm | Matt Hancock


Four months in the past, the UK took the choice to finish all remaining authorized Covid-19 restrictions, changing into the primary main nation on this planet to take action. Whereas some stated it was too quickly and that it might result in a surge in instances, hospitalisations and deaths, this has fortunately not been the case. As a substitute, we have now changed the safety from lockdowns with the safety from science within the energy of vaccines.

Seeing and collaborating within the unimaginable scenes across the UK to have a good time the Queen’s platinum jubilee simply over three weeks in the past confirmed simply how far we have now are available in residing with this virus. However although we are able to depend on vaccines to guard us from extreme sickness or dying, a virus as transmissible as Covid won’t be eradicated. I’ve persistently stated that Covid “will all the time be round” and that we must always “dwell with Covid as we do flu”.

It was hanging, due to this fact, to learn but extra alarmist tales final week concerning the rise in Covid-19 instances, with some even calling for the reintroduction of restrictions. There are some saying that the pandemic just isn’t but over.

As the person who led requires restrictions through the pandemic as well being secretary, I perceive the troubles that individuals have; this can be a actually horrible virus. So many individuals have died, right here and world wide, and lots of extra have had terrible experiences with the illness. However I additionally know that we now have the instruments to cope with this virus and any requires restrictions must be categorically rejected.

The query I ask those that need extra restrictions is the place does it finish? We stated all through the pandemic that our technique was to suppress the virus till vaccines may maintain us secure. Practically 9 in 10 folks aged 12 and over have had two vaccine doses and almost 7 in 10 folks aged 12 or over have had their booster vaccine. In all, greater than 149m doses have been injected into our arms. That is an unimaginable feat contemplating we had been instructed in January 2020 {that a} vaccine may not ever be obtainable, and will take as much as 10 years to create.

Whereas the newest Workplace for Nationwide Statistics survey reveals that infections are rising, we’re not seeing almost the identical ranges of hospitalisations or deaths as we did earlier than the vaccine. Figures revealed simply final week present that an estimated 99.3% of the inhabitants have antibodies – whether or not via an infection or vaccination.

So in consequence, though infections are rising, we’re not being swamped by yet one more Covid wave. Simply as we come ahead every year for our flu inoculation, we should do the identical for our yearly Covid vaccine. The answer to rising instances just isn’t lockdowns or restrictions on our liberties, however vaccines.

This isn’t simply the case in Britain, however world wide. Covid is a world virus, so wants world options. As a result of whereas Covid is endemic right here, it’s nonetheless having a serious influence on a lot of the growing world. I learn with nice pleasure that Covid vaccines lowered the worldwide dying toll by virtually 20m of their first 12 months. The UK must be happy with its contribution to this world effort.

The UK authorities, working with Oxford College and AstraZeneca ensured that our vaccine could be obtainable at price world wide. We waived any cost for mental property for the Oxford vaccine to permit extra areas to fabricate vaccines and enhance world provide. Nearly two-thirds of the worldwide inhabitants have acquired at the least one vaccine.

An estimated quarter of those have been delivered with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab – and since we provided it at price, that proportion is way larger in growing international locations. It’s a enormous credit score to the entire crew that 179 international locations now use the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

In addition to this very direct contribution the UK was additionally one of many earliest backers of the Covax scheme and invested over half a billion of taxpayers’ cash into the scheme so we may assist the world get vaccinated.

There’s clearly extra that should nonetheless be executed. We have to be prepared for variants that evade the vaccine, in addition to for the following pandemic, and different new ailments. However let’s not fall into the entice of but extra restrictions and scaremongering. It will simply set us again additional. Let’s as a substitute again the crew to ship the vaccines we have to defend us all and take advantage of our freedoms.

  • Matt Hancock is the Conservative MP for West Suffolk, and former secretary of state for well being and social care

  • Do you will have an opinion on the problems raised on this article? If you need to submit a letter of as much as 300 phrases to be thought-about for publication, e mail it to us at guardian.letters@theguardian.com



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