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Director of Public Health ‘relieved’ at ‘Freedom Day’ delay

Alice Wiseman, who works in Gateshead, said leaving the virus to go unchecked risked a mutation that evaded the vaccine.

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Gateshead’s Director of Public Health Alice Wiseman (left) with retired GP Joan Bryson who vaccinated her with a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a health centre in Blaydon, Tyneside (Tom Wilkinson/ PA)

Gateshead’s Director of Public Health Alice Wiseman (left) with retired GP Joan Bryson who vaccinated her with a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a health centre in Blaydon, Tyneside (Tom Wilkinson/ PA)

Gateshead’s Director of Public Health Alice Wiseman (left) with retired GP Joan Bryson who vaccinated her with a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a health centre in Blaydon, Tyneside (Tom Wilkinson/ PA)

A Director of Public Health has expressed her relief that Covid lockdown restrictions will not be eased “too fast” ahead of a Government announcement about the planned June 21 unlocking.

Alice Wiseman, who has the health protection role in Gateshead, said allowing the delta variant to go unchecked risked the health of younger people who have not yet had the chance to have the jab, as well as increasing the chance that a new coronavirus mutation could evade the vaccine.

She was speaking after having had her second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in public at a health centre in Blaydon, Tyneside.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to give an official announcement at a news conference at 6pm on Monday.

Ms Wiseman used the opportunity to urge people who have misgivings about getting the vaccine to question health professionals about it, so they can allay their fears.

She said Covid rates in Gateshead have gone up from 7 per 100,000 at the beginning of last month to 65 per 100,000.

If that continued until June 21, the rate would be back to the levels experienced back in February, she said.

Although large numbers of people were not needing hospital treatment, those who were coming in were younger, unvaccinated patients, she said.

They were then at risk of long Covid, adding: “The other risk we have got if we do not slow cases down is that we will have a mutation that evades the vaccine.

“That would be a nightmare scenario as we would have to go back and create new vaccines again.”

Ms Wiseman said delaying so-called Freedom Day would allow more younger people to have the opportunity to at least receive their first dose of the vaccine.

“I am relieved that we are not opening more up – I am also relieved we are not closing anything down again,” she said.

“I don’t want to open anything up too fast, because we will end up going backwards.

“We would have had a real problem if we opened up on June 21.”

She urged people who have questions about the vaccine to visit https://www.beatcovidne.co.uk/ where they can find answers to frequently asked questions about the jab.

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