A scientist advising the government on how to respond to the coronavirus warns against making the same mistakes as last summer.
Professor Stephen Reicher of the University of St Andrews and a member of the behavioral science subcommittee of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the country is at risk of repeating last summer’s mistakes.
He told Times Radio, “I’m afraid we’re online repeating last summer’s mistakes – if you remember, the Prime Minister told us it was our patriotic duty to go to the pub for people to go to Go to work or they might lose their jobs, we had to go out to eat to help out.
“As a result, we never had infections that were low enough to deal with the disease, so the infections increased.
“And I think this time around we should learn from it and get the infections to the point where we’ll be in a much better place in the fall where we don’t have to re-impose restrictions.
“So I think the real question is how can we do this without bothering people too much?”
He said Test and Trace were still not working properly or contacting people quickly enough, highlighting the lack of support for self-isolation.
He added, “It seems to me that if we got the basic public health steps right to suppress infection, we would not be talking about a high reservoir of infection that can rise very quickly as conditions change.”
Professor Reicher said he believed vaccines weakened the link between cases and hospital admissions, but it was not broken.
He told Times Radio that “vaccinations have made a huge difference, but the danger is that if we overestimate and rely on them, we can undermine all of their good effects”.
He added, “So it’s belts and suspenders, of course the vaccination makes a difference, but that doesn’t mean you forget about everything else.”