James Forsyth

Will the vaccine reduce public support for lockdown?

Will the vaccine reduce public support for lockdown?
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The vaccine news today is good, and better than would have been expected even a month ago. The Public Health Scotland data indicating that four weeks after the first dose of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine there is a 94 per cent reduction in the risk of hospitalisation is phenomenal (the figure for Pfizer/BioNTech is 85 per cent).

It suggests that the vaccines should deliver on the ‘protect the NHS’ part of the government’s strategy. This will lead to more Tory pressure on Boris Johnson for a faster easing of lockdown. The argument will go that given the data is better than expected, the pace of lockdown easing should be sped up. At the moment, though, the government is clear that it wants to stick to its cautious pace which it says will allow it to assess the effect of every step in the easing of the lockdown.

Restrictions have gone on for almost a year now. There have been regular claims that public support for them is about to fall away. But it remains remarkably, and surprisingly, strong. The next few weeks will be fascinating on this front. Will those who have been vaccinated want more social contact? Will young people be less prepared to stay home now that granny has been protected?

How much public attitudes change in the coming weeks and months will be crucial in determining how much parliamentary pressure there is on Johnson to go faster in easing the lockdown.