COVID-19: Warning of UK cases spike if vaccinated people break coronavirus rules – Sky News

People could become less strict at sticking to coronavirus rules as more of the population is vaccinated, scientists have warned.

It could lead to a spike in cases that outweighs the gains made by rolling out the jab, according to government advisory body SAGE.

Minutes from their meeting last month say “there is a risk that changes in behaviour could offset the benefits of vaccination, particularly in the early months of vaccine rollout”.

While the jab should prevent sickness, it is still unclear whether the vaccines stop people catching and spreading the infection.

SAGE scientists believe there should be a public awareness campaign with “timely intervention” if people begin flouting the rules – believing they are no longer a risk to others, or that older people and family members are now safe.

Twenty-nine percent of people admitted they will stick to the rules less closely once they are vaccinated, according to a YouGov survey mentioned in the SAGE minutes and reported in the Daily Telegraph.

Eleven percent say they will “probably no longer follow the rules” at all.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people not to “blow it now” during a Number 10 news conference on Monday.

The NHS England medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, has also said it’s “absolutely critical” people stick to social distancing and “don’t rely yet on vaccines coming to our rescue”.

More than four million people, including more than half of over-80s, have now had a vaccination in the UK.

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The government says it is on course to give the jab to around 15 million people in the highest risk categories by the middle of February.

Around that time, once the vaccines have had time to take effect, ministers will consider whether lockdown measures can be eased.

But the prime minister has warned that there will not be an “open sesame” moment when the rules are all suddenly dropped.

Mr Johnson said mid-February was the time to “take stock of what we’ve achieved”, and that any loosening of restrictions would be “gradual”.

A return of the tiers system is widely expected.

That prospect is still a long way off though, with a record 37,475 people in hospital with the disease in the UK, including 15,000 admitted since Christmas Eve.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: Women wearing a face masks exit Bank underground station on August 20, 2020 in London, England. Latest figures show a rise Covid-19 in a number of London boroughs with Richmond Upon Thames seeing a big jump. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)

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UK daily cases have dropped but hospital admissions are at a high

Daily cases show improvement however, with the seven-day average on a downward slope and now at about 45,000 cases from around 58,000 the previous week.

While the UK and many developed countries vaccinate millions, the World Health Organisation has said it’s “not right” that many younger and healthier people will get the jab before older generations in poorer countries.

“Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest income country – not 25 million, not 25,000 – just 25,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday.

“I need to be blunt: The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure.”

A WHO spokeswoman later identified the country as Guinea.

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Hancock wants UK to help vaccinate ‘whole world’

In contrast, UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said that all adults – more than 50 million people – should be offered their first dose by September.

Questioned by Sky News on Monday, the health secretary said he agreed with the concerns of the WHO director-general.

Matt Hancock said he looked forward to working with international bodies to “get enough vaccine to be able to vaccinate the whole world – certainly the whole world’s adult population”.

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