Boris Johnson backed his Plan A of vaccine boosters last night to stave off the cold – but warned that tough measures may be needed to avoid another lockdown.
The PM warned that if admission to a Covid hospital is rocket-bite, work-from-home masks and vaccine passports are being kept in reserve.
He vowed with these restrictions in the toolbox, Brits “can be confident we don’t need to go back to the lockdowns of the past”.
Their plan is to launch a vaccine blitz of boosters and teenage jabs to build a “wall of protection” without requiring any restrictions.
But as the PM pinned his hopes on Britain’s vaccine arsenal, depressed scientists were already urging him to push for more drastic measures.
Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said he must go “hard and fast” if hospitals start filling up.
And Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty warned: “Winter is coming, and people must still take it seriously.”
But Tory lawmakers and businesses urged Boris to “trust our jabs” and stick to Plan A, or risk new misery for rebellion in the high streets and Commons.
Speaking with two medical experts in Downing Street, Boris said Britain is in an “incomparably better place” this winter than it was in the past thanks to the vaccine.
And in the coming weeks, 30 million people will be offered booster jabs from Moderna or Pfizer.
Millions of children in the age group of 12 to 15 years will also get a jab at preventing classrooms from becoming super-spreading centres.
The PM last night begged the five lakh adults who have not “joined the club” and offered to get vaccinated.
He said that thanks to vaccines, the hated lockdowns have ended and freedom has been restored.
The PM added: “The result of this vaccination campaign is that we have one of the freest societies and one of the most open economies in Europe. So now we stick to our strategy.”
But he warned he would reach into his arsenal and bring back mandatory face masks, work from home orders and controversial vaccine passports if needed.
He added: “You don’t necessarily have to play them all at once, far from it. You’ll want to do things in a graduated way.
“We’re in a position now, because so many populations have some degree of immunity, small changes in the way we’re asking people to behave can have a big impact.”
But Sir Patrick said the UK is at a “pivot point” and ministers must “work quickly and hard” if NHS hospital beds are full.
He added: “You can’t wait until it’s late because then you have to do more.”
Prof Whitty said Number 10 may have to use Plan B within weeks.
He warned: “It is possible that a combination of winter events and the delta version could lead to a situation where ministers decided they wanted to trigger all or some of Plan B.”
But former Tory leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith said: “The idea is we need to face masks and work from home.
“We must trust our jabs. They do.”
UKHospitality’s Kate Nichols, which represents pubs and clubs, said: “We need to stick to Plan A for the good of the economy”.
Covid cases fell to a fortnight low yesterday, falling by almost a third to 26,628 in a week.
The death toll was also low and fell 11 percent to 185 in a week.
Professor Chris Whitty said last night that the COVID situation has stabilized.
But the number of people in hospital with Covid was 5 per cent in a week, with 8,413 across the UK.