Covid-19: Third wave across the UK ‘not inevitable’

Jane Kirby, PA Health Editor
·2-min read

A third wave of coronavirus across the UK is not inevitable, according to a new paper from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI).

Vaccinating adolescents could prevent a resurgence of the virus later in the year, while speeding up the pace of vaccine rollout to offer all eligible people a first dose would most likely prevent a summer spike entirely, it said.

The study argues that if vaccine rollout cannot be accelerated back to March levels, then the Government should consider delaying step four of the road map – releasing all limits on social contact, currently set for June 21 – by a month.

Daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK
(PA Graphics)

Boris Johnson has told the public to expect a third wave of coronavirus, with scientists saying it will hit the unvaccinated and those for whom vaccines do not work perfectly.

Modelling for the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) says the third wave may be as high as previous waves, with up to 40,000 further deaths, though chief Government scientists have since said that is unlikely.

They believe a further wave of cases will now come closer to the autumn, when measures may need to be tightened again following a loosening in the summer.

The new report from the TBI said there “remains a lot of uncertainty about the path of the virus over the coming months”.

Covid-19 vaccine doses in the UK
(PA Graphics)

But it argues that the vaccination programme should be extended to adolescents, as planned in Israel and the US, with further vaccination critical to taking the population towards herd immunity.

The report also says that a 65:35 split in use between AstraZeneca and Pfizer/Moderna could save lives compared to the modelling set out in Sage, although real-word data shows similar efficacy for the vaccines.

Ian Mulheirn, UK policy director at the TBI, said: “Despite the success of the vaccine rollout, we’re not out of the woods yet.

“But the Government has the power to stop a deadly third wave of the virus by expanding the vaccination programme to adolescents and bringing the final step of the easing of the road map into line with the vaccine rollout timetable.

“Being prepared to change the strategy could save thousands of lives and the Government should ask its advisers to explore these options now.”

The modelling presented to Sage earlier this year showed that most of those in hospital during any third wave may have been vaccinated, as vaccine rates are so high across the UK.

Vaccines are not 100% effective and so a proportion of vaccinated people, especially those in older age groups and who are vulnerable, will still end up in hospital.