Britain unlikely to go into another lockdown, leading scientist says

·4-min read
Britain unlikely to go into another lockdown, leading scientist says

The UK is unlikely to go into another lockdown as the Covid-19 situation is “fairly stable”, a scientific adviser to the government has said.

His comments come as Austria prepares to go into a full national lockdown from Monday with reports other nations could follow amid surging infection rates across Europe.

Prof John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said it is unlikely that the UK will follow suit.

He told Sky News: “Here in the UK, we’ve had high rates of infection for many months now and we’re in a slightly different position to Austria and Germany.

“We’ve had high rates but fairly stable. I don’t think things will happen quite in the same way as they have done there.”

He added that the situation in Europe should serve as a “warning” to get booster shots.

Several other scientists echoed his comments, with many hopeful that the booster jab rollout will help the UK escape the rise in infections seen in Europe.

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, one of those behind the creation of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said it is “unlikely” the UK will see a rise similar to parts of Europe.

He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “We’ve actually had some spread (of the virus) going on since the summer, and so I think it’s unlikely that we’re going to see the very sharp rise in the next few months that’s just been seen. We’re already ahead of that with this particular virus, the Delta variant.”

Sir Andrew said reaching the point where the virus no longer spreads is “not going to be a thing”, saying the Covid-19 will be around “for decades”, but he added that vaccines are successfully slowing it down.

He said coronavirus remains “a major global public health problem”, but that in the UK “the balance is shifting because of the vaccine programme that has been in place”.

Bookings for booster jabs are opening in England for people aged 40 and over (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)
Bookings for booster jabs are opening in England for people aged 40 and over (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

Sir Andrew said that vaccines may have prevented about 300,000 deaths in the UK.

There is already “quite a lot of immunity building” in younger age groups, he said, when asked about reports of plans to jab five-year-olds.

Bookings for booster jabs are opening this week in England for people aged 40 and over.

Sixteen and 17-year-olds will also be able to book in for their second jab from Monday.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it is the vaccine programme, rather than immunity from infection, that means the British people are more protected from the Covid-19 winter wave than other European countries.

He told Times Radio: “I do think the reason we have such a high level of protection is primarily down to our vaccination programme, with almost some 88% of people having had at least one jab, 80% double jabbed.

“If you look at some of those countries in Europe now that have seen the biggest surges, they have a much lower overall vaccination rate.”

People eligible for a booster can get the top-up jab from six months after having their second dose.

But they can book their appointment from 7am on Monday when the National Booking Service opens for people aged 40 and over, as well as for young people aged 16 and 17 in England.

Almost 200,000 teenagers in this category are currently eligible for a second jab, NHS England said.

It added that almost 500,000 people in their 40s are currently eligible for a booster, having had a second jab at least six months ago.

Bookings can be made online or by calling 119. Anyone eligible for a booster at, or past, the six-month mark can use the NHS online walk-in finder to see their nearest walk-in site.

More than a million 40 to 49-year-olds can pre-book their appointments from Monday, and a further 1.5 million invitations will be sent to this age group in the coming weeks, NHS England said.

The extension of the rollout, announced last week, came amid concerns at waning immunity in those were were jabbed near the beginning of the vaccine programme.

More than 14 million boosters and third doses had been administered in the UK as of Friday, the Government said, with more than one million top-up jabs recorded since Tuesday.

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