SAGE adviser Professor Andrew Hayward urged caution amid news of more than half the UK population 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”.
The total number of UK residents who have received the first dose is 26,853,407.
But there is growing unease overseas, with European neighbours enforcing new lockdowns amid a surge in infections.
Residents in parts of France – including Paris – Poland and Ukraine’s capital Kiev, faced new restrictions on Saturday. Shops shut and people were urged to work from home.
Shops, restaurants and schools are closed across more than half of Italy, including in Rome and Milan, with a total lockdown planned for Easter (April 3 – 5).
Most states in Germany have experienced a slow reopening of facilities, but Hamburg entered full lockdown on Saturday after a spike in cases.
Government advisers have said summer holidays overseas are “extremely unlikely” due to the risk of bringing Covid cases back to the UK.
Speaking to Times Radio, Professor Hayward, of University College London, said: “I think another wave is possible, likely even.
“I guess the difference is that another wave will cause substantially fewer deaths and hospitalisations because of high levels of vaccination across the sorts of people who would have ended up in hospital or unfortunately dying if they haven’t been vaccinated.
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Professor Hayward has urged the public to be “careful” lockdown measures are phased out, as the surge across Europe could last”several months”.
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.