There will be good and bad pressures on the UK’s Covid R number over the coming weeks, likely including travel, as the country continues to emerge from months of lockdown, deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has said.
LBC’s Ben Kentish asked health secretary Matt Hancock, who led the government’s latest Covid briefing on Wednesday (28 April), what the latest data on the effectiveness of vaccines on known variants of Covid-19 meant for international travel this summer.
Hancock said the UK was "on track" to proceed with step three of the government’s plans to ease the country’s Covid restrictions on 17 May, which is also the "at the very earliest" date for a resumption of international travel.
Asked by Hancock to comment further, Van-Tam said: "I think we are moving at pace and essentially following a good dry line now. But I don’t want us to run into any wet patches, that is going to be really critical in the next few weeks. There are going to be good pressures on R, and bad pressures on R, in the next few weeks.
"Obviously, with the 17 May planned easements, and 21 June planned easements, these will have a propensity – as we mix more and more normally – to increase R. At the same time, we hope the continued vaccine rollout, if it continues as well as it has started, will put downward pressure on R.
"So those are competing forces that are at play in the next few weeks, for all the right reasons."