Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, believes normality will not return until vaccination rollouts have been successfully completed across the globe. A tone of caution has been adopted by scientists and politicians amid Britain’s significant progress with its jab drive.
It has led to warnings about booking summer holidays, as Government advisers have described breaks overseas as “extremely unlikely” due to the risk of bringing Covid cases back.
On Saturday, the UK delivered a record 844,285 coronavirus vaccine doses in a single day.
Dr Ramsay told the BBC: “I think certainly for a few years, at least until other parts of the world are as well vaccinated as we are, and the numbers have come down everywhere, that is when we may be able to go very gradually back to a more normal situation.
Dr Ramsay added that it is “very important that we do not relax too quickly”, suggesting: “We have to look very carefully before any of these restrictions are lifted.”
SAGE adviser Professor Andrew Hayward also urged caution amid news of more than half the UK population – 26,853,407 – receiving their first jab.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has described the vaccination campaign as “a national success story and our way out of this pandemic”.
Prof Hayward has said a fourth wave is “highly like”, but believes it would not be as damaging due to the significant progress made in tackling the virus so far.
Speaking to Times Radio, Professor Hayward, of University College London, said: “I think another wave is possible, likely even.
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“We know the vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective, although it’s very good.”
According to Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown, restrictions will be eased on March 29, with the ‘rule of six’ allowing the return of outdoor meetings.
From April 12, the Government plans to reopen hospitality venues, while social distancing measures will remain in place until June 21 at the earliest.