Philip Thomas

Need we fear a third wave after lockdown ends?

When Boris Johnson revealed his roadmap out of lockdown at the end of February he promised a ‘one way road to freedom.’ Since then, it has seemed that instead of freedom we may end up with continued social distancing, perhaps Covid passports and mandatory mask-wearing. The justification offered is that the virus might come back. But does the data back up this pessimism?

I’m an academic at Bristol University and have developed the Predictor Corrector Coronavirus Filter (known as PCCF) model, updated daily on The Spectator’s data hub. It confirms that we can safely return to the ‘old normal’ on 21 June with no need for extra measures. It predicts that a complete abolition of restrictions on that date will not see a third wave of any significance.

Throughout the pandemic, the PCCF has successfully projected the trajectory of the virus. Models might have a bad reputation after the last year, but ours has constantly chimed with the official ONS estimates of the virus’ behaviour. This is why I think our projection deserves serious attention.

Here is our main finding: that, even with a genuine abolition of restrictions after 21 June (including social distancing), the ‘third wave’ of infections should be minimal…

…and have an even smaller effect on Covid deaths:

The assumptions

Any model is, of course, only as good as its assumptions. So here are the assumptions fed into the PCCF

  • That 95 per cent of adults have now either received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine or would be likely to accept an injection if offered
  • The government sticks to its age group prioritisation and timetable for vaccination, so that every adult is offered at least a first vaccination by the end of July
  • The first jab provides 69 per cent protection against infection/transmission and reduces the chance of dying by 85 per cent after eight weeks
  • The second (coming 8-12 weeks later) will boost the eventual figure to 80 per cent for infection/transmission and provide 97 per cent protection against dying.

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