COVID is still rampaging worldwide as experts have warned the UK won’t be safe until the virus is curbed globally.
It comes as the UK’s much anticipated “Freedom Day” on June 21 is looking on the rocks as fears grow over new variants and the number of vaccinations.
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Britain’s cases have started creeping up again after falling to lows of 1,613 in May from highs of 67,842 in January.
Restrictions could continue to be imposed beyond June 21 if the government believes it has not turned the tide enough against Covid.
Professor Martin McKee, of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told The Mirror: “We won’t be safe until everyone is safe.
“More needs to be done to ensure every country gets enough jabs.”
Rampant spread of Covid is understood to cause more variants, which could undermine the current generation of vaccines.
And many nations’ rapid spread is combined with a lack of jabs which just worsens the rampaging outbreaks and mutation of the virus.
Some 3.1million cases have been detected in the last seven days worldwide, which is slightly down from the previous week’s total of 3.6million.
However, new outbreaks are rising – and the figures for countries such as Brazil and India remain staggeringly high.
India recorded 974,404 new cases over the last week, while Brazil saw its case count hit 449,297.
Argentina and Colombia also recorded 212,975 and 175,479 cases in the past week, and the virus continues to spread in the US with a case count of 102,975.
Britain was 17th in the global league table – but saw its case count over the last week rise from 20,765 to 29,029, a spike of some 40 per cent – the largest out of the top 20 nations.
Other worrying rises have been seen in countries like the Philippines which saw its cases jump by 22 per cent, South Africa which saw a 20 per cent rise, and Thailand which saw a 23 per cent rise.
Out of the 15 countries with the highest number of weekly Covid figures, nine of them are on the UK’s red list – while six remain amber – France, Iran, Russia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the USA.
It comes amid criticism of how the UK has handled its border situation, with some calling for the complete scrapping of the amber list.
And variants such as the ongoing threat from the Indian variant along with the so-called Nepal variant hang like an axe over the UK’s hopes of freedom from lockdown.
Previously, The People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA) – a global coalition of 50 organizations – told The Sun Online about the critical danger the new strains pose if more support isn’t given to help vaccinate people worldwide.
It warned under current estimations many developing countries will not hit the necessary levels of vaccination to end the pandemic until 2024.
With a connected world, any new outbreaks or variants could spread to countries which have already vaccinated – and the new mutations may be able to dodge the antibodies given by the jabs.
“This failure puts us all at risk,” Anna Marriott, health policy manager at Oxfam, told The Sun Online.
Ms Marriott told The Sun Online: “No one is safe until everyone is safe and our best chance of all staying safe is to ensure a Covid-19 vaccine is available for all.
“The failure to tackle global vaccine inequality is increasing the risk of further mutations and endangering all our safety.”
The PVA said some 88 per cent of epidemiologists it surveyed warned that low vaccine coverage makes it more likely for more mutations.
New mutations on the coronavirus can make it harder for the body’s immune system, which has been primed to look out for the “original” strain either through vaccination or prior infection, to recognise it.
Antibodies – proteins produced by the immune system to fight the virus – may be weaker against new strains.
The threat of new coronavirus strains also means masks and social distancing could be needed for years to come, despite the vaccine rollout, and it is not clear when border controls will be relaxed.
And its feared should a new variant take hold, further lockdowns may needed to clamp down and stop the spread.
Ministers and officials are working on contingency plans to move “Freedom Day” to next month, as well as retaining distancing and limits on fans in stadiums.
Those in favour of a delay argue it would allow more Brits to get at least their first jab, while the PM is holding firm on the date.
But ministers fear June 21 will be too soon to “definitively” prove the jab has broken the link between cases and hospitalisations.
“Professor Lockdown” Neil Ferguson has warned the Indian variant could yet be 100 per cent more transmissible than other strains.
He said Mr Johnson had a “very difficult judgment call” on whether to unlock in 16 days. The crucial R rate is also as high as 1.2 according to Sage — meaning the virus is up again.
Public Health England said 278 people with the Indian variant attended A&Es in England last week, resulting in 94 overnight admissions.
This compares with 201 A&E attendances in the previous week, with 43 admissions.
A Cabinet source said of contingency plans: “I can’t say we are not preparing for it, but we are not there quite yet.”
A government figure told Sky News “It would be remiss of us to take a decision without a full set of data as evidence.
“Of course officials are drawing up other options but we are still expecting to be in a place to go ahead on June 21.”
Mr Johnson has vowed to give businesses and the public at least a week’s notice, meaning a decision on June 14 at the latest.