Duncan Smith furious at SAGE over ‘obsession’ for Covid – calls for ‘balanced’ reopening

UK 'needs a balanced reopening' says Ian Duncan Smith

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The former Tory Party leader warned the poorest in society “will suffer the most” if the UK does not reopen. Sir Iain Duncan Smith said SAGE are “scared stiff of a third wave” of the deadly disease. The job of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is not yet “done”, an immunisation expert has said as scientists are split on whether the Government should press ahead with the final stages of easing social restrictions later this month.

Speaking to talkRADIO, Sir Iain said: “People’s outlook and attitude towards life is skewed at the moment very badly but the furlough scheme is going to come to an end and one of the problems is if we don’t get moving on June 21.

“When you hear SAGE talk it’s like we haven’t done a single vaccine but we’ve double-dosed nearly 50 percent of the population.

“We need to get some balance back into people at the moment because we’re very unbalanced which is a dangerous place to be.”

He added: “What we have now is a bunch of scientists obsessed with one single issue to the detriment of absolutely everything else.

“If the economy doesn’t move, the poorest in society will suffer the most.”

It comes as Professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said there are still many people who are vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 as he warned “the idea that somehow the job is done is wrong”.

Experts are divided over whether the final stage of easing social restrictions should press ahead on June 21 amid a surge in cases of the new variant first identified in India.

Downing Street has indicated that Boris Johnson still sees nothing in the data to suggest the plan to end all legal lockdown restrictions on June 21 will need to be delayed.

Single dose coronavirus vaccine approved for use in UK

Asked about the Prime Minister’s plans amid warnings over the spread of the Indian variant, a No 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has said on a number of occasions that we haven’t seen anything in the data but we will continue to look at the data, we will continue to look at the latest scientific evidence as we move through June towards June 21.”

Prof Finn, from the University of Bristol, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There’s vulnerability across the country. The idea that somehow the job is done is wrong.

“We’ve still got a lot of people out there who’ve neither had this virus … nor yet been immunised, and that’s why we’re in a vulnerable position right now.”

He told LBC that pressing ahead with the easing of restrictions on June 21 “may be a bad decision”.

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Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said a delay of a few weeks could have a significant impact on Britain’s battle against the pandemic and recommended it should be made clear to the public that it would be a temporary measure based on the surge in cases of the new variant.

“Even a month delay could have a big impact on the eventual outcome of this,” Prof Gupta told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Pat Cullen, acting general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, urged ministers to watch the data, adding: “As the NHS starts the road to recovery now is the time to take cautious steps and not take an unchecked leap to freedom.”

However, Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, said it was important to press ahead with the June 21 easing from a societal point of view.

He told Times Radio: “I personally don’t see any case for delay … from a societal point of view, I think it’s really important that we go ahead on June 21 and I’ve not really seen anything in the data that would lead me to doubt that as a proposition on the evidence to date.”

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