Professor Neil Ferguson says that the success of the U.K.’s vaccine rollout means life will feel more normal by the summer, though we will still “not [be] completely back to normal“. His predictions echo recent reports that while many restrictions will come to an end on June 21st, mask-wearing and caps on numbers attending large events could stay in place past the “end” of lockdown. But with Covid cases and deaths continuing to fall, more MPs – and even papers – are asking why restrictions can’t come to an end now. MailOnline has more.
The SAGE Adviser and Imperial College London Epidemiologist, whose sobering death toll predictions led Britain into its first lockdown last year, said today that he expects the vaccine rollout to help keep the U.K. out of lockdown for good.
His comments will be seized upon by the Tory MPs calling for the roadmap to normality to be sped up…
Sir Robert Syms, Tory MP for Poole in Dorset, yesterday said: “We need to push the Government to get on with it. A lot of normal life could be returned.” He said the country would “lose another summer” if rules aren’t eased soon.
The PM has so far refused to budge in the face of calls for more freedom. Trade Secretary Liz Truss this morning dodged questions about whether she thought it should be sped up and told talkRADIO: “We do need to make sure any opening up is irreversible.”
… Professor Ferguson said that jabs appear to work so well that they may hold the virus at bay even in the autumn and winter, when experts fear it will make a comeback like flu.
He added that the ratio of cases to hospital admissions would be much lower next time around and it was unlikely there will be any danger of the NHS getting overwhelmed.
He admitted “we do expect transmission” when society fully reopens in June but suggested vaccination should replace the need for lockdowns and the U.K. is “in a very good position” to stick to plans for June 21st.
Professor Ferguson’s main fear now is the threat of Covid variants, against which he believes “booster [vaccine] doses” should be administered.
Other advisers to SAGE last week published a study showing that Pfizer’s jab protects well against the South African variant after people have had both doses.
Professor Ferguson said: “The risk from variants, where vaccines are less effective is the major concern. That’s the one thing that could still lead to a very major third wave in the autumn.
“So I think it’s essential that we roll out booster doses which can protect against that as soon as we finish vaccinating the adult population which should finish by the summer…
“It’s much better to be vaccinating people than shutting down the whole of society.
“So I think, with that one caveat, I am feeling fairly optimistic that we will be – not completely back to normal – but something that feels a lot more normal by the summer.”
Worth reading in full.