Covid: UK 'frightened' into lockdown delay by 'incorrect forecasts', says Iain Duncan Smith

The former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said SAGE forecasts were 'completely incorrect' and that vaccines were reducing hospitalisations and deaths

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Britain is being "frightened" by "incorrect forecasts that don't take into consideration the impact of vaccines", Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith has told GB News.

The former Conservative leader expressed his disappointment at the delay to Freedom Day on The Great British Breakfast, after Boris Johnson said easing of restrictions would be postponed until July 19.

He argued that Covid-19 vaccines were effective against the Delta variant which first originated in India, citing figures which showed a 60% reduction in hospitalisations after one jab and up to 95% reduction after two doses.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "We have a set of forecasts where SAGE have been completely incorrect. We're getting worried and frightened about forecasts which don't take into consideration the impact of vaccines.

"The reality is vaccines are having a dramatic effect on hospitalisations and death and these are two important figures." Rising case rates and hospital numbers are likely to have persuaded ministers of the merits of postponing the last stage of the road map out of lockdown."

The former Conservative leader also said the vaccine rollout was protecting the most vulnerable in society and that the vast majority of people who were catching Covid-19 were young people.

"That's why we're not seeing a significant rise in hospitalisations or deaths," he said. "This is a reality. There's no evidence to suggest we should delay at this stage."

The Delta variant of Covid-19, first identified in India, is now responsible for up to 96% of new cases – with a 60% increased risk of household transmission compared with the Alpha variant, which originated in Kent last year.

And while the vaccine rollout is estimated to have already averted more than 14,000 deaths in older people, just under half of all adults in England are not yet fully vaccinated.

The Government has said the decision to lift restrictions will be based on four tests: whether the vaccine rollout is continuing successfully; if evidence shows vaccines are reducing hospital cases and deaths among people who have been vaccinated; that infection rates are not risking a surge in hospital cases which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS; and that the Government’s assessment of the risks has not been fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.