Boris Johnson will soon receive the crucial data which decides the UK’s route out of lockdown
Boris Johnson is due to receive the data which will ultimately determine how quickly the UK can leave lockdown.
The Prime Minister will be given the most recent figures available on the impact of the UK’s vaccination programme, which will play a large part in deciding the speed at which existing restrictions can be relaxed.
What does this mean for the lockdown roadmap?
There has been much speculation about the roadmap out of lockdown since the Government set a date to unveil it, and ministers have been keen to downplay suggestions that there are confirmed dates for restrictions to be eased.
This is largely because later aspects of the plan to relax restrictions can only be enacted once Covid case numbers go below a certain level. The easing of lesser restrictions earlier on in the plan could cause cases to increase again.
However, the efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine in reducing fatalities, hospitalisations and transmission will also play a deciding role in how quickly the UK can come out of lockdown. If the new data shows the jabs are particularly effective (particularly at reducing transmission) after the first dose, then restrictions will likely be able to be lifted more rapidly.
There are some signs that the data is likely to be encouraging, as figures which came last week found that a first dose of Pfizer vaccine offers significant protection against the virus.
Data from Israel, which is the furthest ahead of any nation in terms of vaccinations, is also encouraging, with hospital rates and deaths there dropping significantly.
Figures have also shown that the rate of death among Covid patients over 80 has dropped at a higher rate than those under 65, suggesting the vaccination programme is having some effect.
When will we know about the roadmap?
The Prime Minister is expected to receive the data tonight (18 Feb), or tomorrow morning at the latest. From then, it is expected that Mr Johnson will meet with a key team of cabinet members over the weekend to finalise the roadmap.
He will then likely present the finalised plan to ministers on Monday (22 Feb) morning, the House of Commons at lunch time and then the nation in a televised press conference in the evening.