Richard Madeley and Dr Hilary Jones argued on Good Morning Britain after the doctor said the Government should consider delaying plans to lift the UK’s lockdown on June 21.
The roadmap out of lockdown targets Monday June 21 as the day to fully lift restrictions, but the rise of the Delta variant (otherwise known as the Indian variant ) has led to some health experts to call for the lockdown to be extended until more of the population is vaccinated.
During a debate with Richard and co-host Susanna Reid, Dr Hilary asked: “Let me ask you a simple question, why would we get out of lockdown when things are getting worse? Does that make any sense to anybody?”
Former This Morning and Richard & Judy host Richard questioned if the situation is getting worse, to which Dr Hilary replied: “Yes, they are.”
It was suggested that the Delta variant has not led to more hospital admissions, which Dr Hilary refuted, saying: “There are more hospitalisations.
“We may not be seeing so many, we’re not seeing the big peak in hospitalisations and deaths, but we’re still having our NHS staff work extremely hard to keep hospitalisations down and keep people from dying.
“ICU units are pretty busy again and some experts are saying that we are already in a third wave.
“So my question is why would we ease restrictions now when things are getting worse when we’ve got a new variant which is causing huge problems in India but big problems here as well.”
When asked “how long this would go on for” by Susanna, Dr Hilary said “this continues for as long as it takes”, adding: “We have to get things under control because we’ve got to think about all the staff working so hard in NHS hospitals across the country and many are suffering from burnout.
“Many are taking risks, wearing PPE for many, many hours in the day. Think about all the people suffering from cancer and can’t get treatment. People with heart disease who can’t get treatment.
“Until we get this under control, then we are going to have problems going forward.”
He added: “It means vaccinating the entire population and having booster doses. It means continuing with social distancing for the time being with mask wearing and sanitising and being cautious.
“We’re going back to another wave, we’re going to see more cases, more hospitalisations.”
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Richard then weighed in again, asking Dr Hilary: “If you were prime minister you would be saying at some point in the next 48 hours, ‘Sorry everybody, but you’re stuck with this for the foreseeable. You’re going to be living with this through the summer, into the autumn and possibly as long as Christmas until every last person, who is willing to be jabbed.’ I mean, that’s a big ask.”
Dr Hilary replied: “It is a big ask, it’s a pandemic. It’s the biggest health threat for a hundred years. So we have to take it seriously.”
“But not now!” Richard exclaimed. “Because the vaccine has broken the link between infections and the hospital.”
Dr Hilary responded: “Yes it has, it’s been magnificent in terms of it’s success, but we still have a quarter of the population who haven’t had one jab and half who haven’t had a second jab.”
He added: “All I’m saying is be a little more patient, [or] we’re going to be back to square one.”