London — Britain’s struggle with one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in Europe has called into question the liberal health policy of Boris Johnson’s government.
Figures released on Monday showed that another 49,156 people tested positive in the latest 24-hour period. The highest number since mid-July.
In July, Johnson’s government lifted most remaining coronavirus restrictions when many European countries were moving to introduce health passes.
Scientists attribute to the surge that young Britons, the over-12s who have only been eligible for COVID vaccination since September. However, the infection rate among older children “is the driving force behind this sustained tide of new infections,” said Professor Simon Clarke of the University of Reading.
15% of Britons don’t wear masks, compared to 5% among their European neighbors, according to a YouGov survey in mid-October.
The British vaccination program started much faster than in the rest of Europe. People now fully vaccinated are nearly 45 million people (79% of those over 12).
Some experts say the country is now paying for the early progress made. The first people to be vaccinated, the most fragile, are currently experiencing a drop in immunity to the virus.
According to studies, this drop is especially the case among the many given the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine — whose effectiveness wears off quicker than its competitors.