Plan to reopen pubs could be delayed by yet another Covid surge, study says

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The full reopening of pubs could be delayed by another coronavirus surge, a SAGE study suggests.

Indoor hospitality is due to reopen again on May 17, but new modelling from government scientific advisors suggests England could experience a new Covid-19 surge, the Daily Mirror reports.

Papers from SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) predicts there may be a late summer surge almost as bad as the one seen in later January when hospitals were nearly overwhelmed soon after the latest lockdown began.

New modelling casts doubt on whether coronavirus rules can be fully relaxed on June 21, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson assuring the nation the roadmap out of lockdown is still on track.

Scientists believe some restrictions such as social distancing may have to be maintained until this time next year.

They believe vaccine protection and possible take up levels as low as 85% among adults aged under 50 may not be enough to return Britain back to normality.

The worrying modelling has been carried out by the University of Warwick, Imperial College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

Step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown features cinemas and indoor hospitality, as well as limited capacity in some sports stadiums, from May 17.

It is due to be followed by the final unlocking of all restrictions no earlier than June 21.

A newly released Government paper by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O) summarised its latest modelling, suggesting any big Covid-19 surge is expected between August and October 2021.

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It said: "It is highly likely that there will be a further resurgence in hospitalisations and deaths after the later steps of the roadmap.

"The scale, shape, and timing of any resurgence remains highly uncertain.

"In most scenarios modelled any peak is smaller than the wave seen in January 2021 however scenarios with little transmission reduction after Step 4 or with pessimistic but plausible vaccine efficacy assumptions can result in resurgences in hospitalisations of a similar scale to January 2021."

Warwick and LSHTM’s lower efficacy scenarios both predict the late summer surge could see hospital admissions back up to around 30,000.

But modelling by Warwick University has a central assumption with an admissions peak of around 10,000.

A government source told the Daily Mirror: "We can't truly rule out the possibility things could turn out like that."

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