The United Kingdom considers delaying the end of the restrictions because the Indian variant of the coronavirus is 40% more contagious.
The strain, now dominant in the country, threatens the reopening scheduled for June 21. Experts advising the government of Boris Johnson warned of "a serious risk to the population."
The Delta variant of the coronavirus, registered for the first time in India, is transmitted 40% more than the Alpha variant, until recently dominant in the United Kingdom, the British Health Minister reported this Sunday, admitting that the situation could lead to postponement of the total lifting of the restrictions, scheduled for the 21st of this month.
"The best estimate of the growth advantage, as we call it ... is around 40%, " Matt Hancock, head of the Health portfolio, told the British news network BBC, citing research by the group of scientists advising the government of conservative Boris Johnson.
Given the rebound in cases, Hancock confirmed today that the government is openly contemplating the possibility of postponing the reopening date, scheduled for June 21.
"At the moment, it is a date marked in pencil," he said before indicating that the social distancing measures could continue beyond the final phase of reopening drawn up by the authorities, the Europa Press news agency reported.
By the end of June, about three-fifths of adults will be fully vaccinated, Hancock added, up from 52% currently.
However, he added: "If the delay has to be the same because the data is deteriorating, we fully agree."
Experts such as the epidemiologist of the University of London Anne Johnson or the president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Trevor Phillips, were categorically against exercising any kind of haste in the reopening of the country.
The government adviser Stephen Reicher warned yesterday that the execution of the next reopening measures would be "reckless" and would represent " a serious risk to the population," according to comments collected by The Guardian.
Despite the increase in the number of new cases of Covid-19 in recent days, which exceeds the 5,000 registered daily, the number of hospitalizations remains stable, Hancock added.
Most of the hospitalizations refer to patients who were not vaccinated, he said.
The United Kingdom, the most affected country in Europe with about 128,000 deaths, administered at least a first dose of vaccine to more than 40 million people. More than 27 million have now got a second dose.