Professor John Edmunds, member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), spoke to Robert Peston yesterday about the likelihood of a resurgence of coronavirus cases this summer. In a grim warning, he suggested the end of lockdown restrictions could see an “inevitable” spike unless more of the population are vaccinated.
Government data from yesterday shows that 48.4 percent have received their first vaccine dose, while only 12.2 percent have had their second.
Speaking on last night’s episode of Peston on ITV, Prof Edmunds said: “We are lifting the brakes a little earlier… if you kept brakes on until we are all vaccinated, that would be the safest way to do it.”
When asked by Mr Peston whether this included children, he agreed and added: “I think we do need to vaccinate the vast majority of us in order to be able to keep a lid on this epidemic more or less permanently.”
Prof Edmunds then added: “If we ease restrictions, then cases will occur.
“It’s sort of inevitable really, they will occur in the younger half of the population and that will expose the older half.”
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Professor Jeremy Brown, a member of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), also warned a third wave of Covid could see thousands more dead.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today show: “I feel mighty relieved that we are now in a position where a very high proportion of the vulnerable population have been vaccinated so, if control of the virus is lost, then the damage it can do will be relatively restricted.
“But when I say relatively restricted, what I mean is that a big third wave could still end up with 30,000 to 50,000 deaths, potentially, if it was a similar sort of size to the previous waves that we’ve had.”
He then added maintaining social distancing will be “important” to keeping cases down, but also said “those will be less necessary the higher proportion of the population gets vaccinated”.
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As of yesterday, the UK has administered 32,326,604 first doses and 8,170,081 second doses of coronavirus vaccine.
On Tuesday, the NHS began offering those over-45 a jab ahead of schedule after all adults over 50 years old were offered at least one vaccine dose.
Yesterday also saw another 2,491 cases and 38 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
In total, the UK has recorded 4,378,305 cases and 127,161 deaths.