British authorities expressed optimism that coronavirus restrictions could be lifted in June, as vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca are reported to be effective against variants of the disease identified in India.
Jenny Harries, executive director of the UK Health Agency, said the country was ready to lift restrictions on June 21 as long as the public continued to adhere to the precautionary measures.
“Everything seems to be going well as long as residents follow health recommendations,” the official told the BBC.
However, he cautioned that the Indian variant is becoming the dominant version of the disease in parts of north-west England, so residents should remain cautious.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “fairly confident” that Britain would be able to lift the restrictions.
Pfizer’s vaccine is 88% effective against the variant and AstraZeneca is 60% effective, according to a recent study.
The review, conducted by the British Institute of Public Health between April 5 and May 16, showed that the vaccine was nearly as effective as the symptomatic Indian variant compared to a more common variant called Kent.
British authorities have expressed disappointment that the Indian variant could undermine plans to reopen the economy. So far more than 2,880 cases of the Indian variant have been recorded in the UK.
The government has said that so far it appears the new variant is more contagious, but there are questions about whether it is cause for concern.
In the UK, more than 37.7 million people (72% of the population) have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 42% have received both doses.