Tier system may need strengthening, says adviser

Public Health England's Dr Susan Hopkins has said that the government may need to look at what ‘tiers there may be in the future’ when the current national lockdown ends on 2 December.

A three-tier system was used in England to tackle the spread of coronavirus before the national lockdown began, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock just one senior minister who has stated that the government hoped to bring back the regional tiers.

However, speaking at the government's evening coronavirus briefing, Hopkins said that England's regional Covid tier system may need to be ‘strengthened’ to get the country ‘through the winter’, adding that the government expecting to have a more detailed idea of whether the four week national lockdown is working within the next week.

She added that, prior to the lockdown, the ‘tiering of the country’ had had a different effect in each area and that, ‘when we look at what tiers may be there in the future’, we will have to ‘think about strengthening them to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone’.

Also speaking at the briefing, Hancock confirmed that the UK has secured five million doses of the new Moderna vaccine - which has shown in early data that it is nearly 95 per cent effective in protecting against coronavirus. He said that, if it was found to be safe, it would be available in the UK in spring next year. The doses would be enough to vaccinate 2.5 million people.

He said: “Today’s announcement is excellent news and an encouraging step forward in our fight against Covid-19. We have moved swiftly to secure five million doses of this hugely promising vaccine meaning we are even better placed to vaccinate everyone who will benefit should the rigorous safety standards be met. But we are not there yet. Until science can make us safe, we must remain vigilant and keep following the rules that we know can keep this virus under control.”