Don’t hug grandparents at Easter even if they’re vaccinated, Chris Whitty warns

Britain's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty speaks during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic media briefing at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain February 22, 2021. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty speaks during a press briefing at Downing Street. (Reuters)

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has warned that people who have had both coronavirus vaccines should not hug their grandchildren.

Speaking at the Downing Street press conference on Monday, Whitty said people are still vulnerable to catching COVID-19 even if they have had two jabs.

It comes as more than 30 million Brits have had their first vaccine and the government eases more lockdown restrictions.

When asked by Jason Groves, political correspondent at the Express, why people who have had both vaccines are still unable to hug their grandchildren this Easter, Prof Whitty explained that more people need to be vaccinated to build up protection.

Read: COVID levels need to be 'significantly lower' before people can hug again, says top scientist

Whitty said vaccines “provide increasing levels of protection as we go through.

"The first vaccine provides a high degree of protection. The second vaccine for the same person provides greater protection but there is still some vulnerability.”

“Then actually having people around someone who themselves have been vaccinated who themselves have been vaccinated provides a further third of protection,” he added.

Watch: How vaccines are reducing COVID infection

Whitty also said that keeping rates down will reduce the likelihood that people, even if they’ve been vaccinated, will unlikely pass it on to others.

“What we’re trying to do is get to the point where all those protections are in place and we are not yet at that stage,” he said, adding that the great majority of people have not had their second vaccine.

During the conference, the chief medical officer also said that the "wall of vaccination" will get stronger once people receive their second doses but added that it is "not a complete wall, it is a kind of leaky wall."

He said that those most likely to catch and transmit COVID-19 were in the "younger, unvaccinated group".

"The majority of transmission is in younger age groups who have not yet been vaccinated, unless people have got pre-existing health conditions, or they are a health or social care worker, or care for someone who is vulnerable," he said.

"We therefore anticipate that as there is gradual unlocking in the way the prime minister has described, it is inevitable that there will be some increase in the number of cases.

"Because the people who are most likely to catch and transmit COVID are in that younger, unvaccinated group.

Britain's Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty (L), Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) and Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance (R) give an update on the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic during a virtual press conference inside the new Downing Street Briefing Room in central London on March 29, 2021. - England entered the second phase of its lockdown easing on Monday thanks to a successful vaccination drive, but the government is urging vigilance as another wave of coronavirus sweeps Europe. (Photo by Hollie Adams / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HOLLIE ADAMS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Prof Chris Whitty, prime minister Boris Johnson and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance give an update on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP via Getty Images)

Read: Have your say: When are you planning a rule of six get-together outside?

"So, the vaccination has had a really big impact on helping to protect against people dying from COVID, although it is not a complete protection, but it will have less impact on transmission because of this age distribution."

It comes after sports minister Nigel Huddleston told Times Radio: "Please don't do the hugging".

He said: "I want to hug my mum as well – politicians are human beings too and we're as desperately keen to do this as everybody else.

"But uncomfortable as it is, please don't do the hugging, because what you're doing is risking the health of the very people that you love,” he added.

Watch: Whitty: COVID will remain with us for the foreseeable future