BRITS could have life back to normal by the summer if the vaccine rollout is successful, one Sage expert has claimed.
Coronavirus jabs from Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca are currently being administered across the country in a bid to inoculate the nation.
Vaccines are currently being rolled out to the most vulnerable in the country Credit: Solent News
Over 9.2million Brits have received their first dose with nearly half a million having received their second and experts say that if they are effective the UK could be close to pre-Covid life by summer.
Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of Sage subgroup the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) said vaccines would need to be 70 to 80 per cent effective at blocking transmission of the virus for this to happen.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme Dr Tildesley explained that if the current trajectory continues then restrictions could start to ease by March.
He said: “But I think even with that optimistic situation, it needs to be done relatively gradually.
“The danger is of course as we do start to unwind controls then we offset the gains that we get from vaccination, so we need to be very careful.
“But if the vaccine rollout continues at high levels, and we do find that actually these vaccines are very good at blocking transmission as well as preventing severe infection, then we’re in a good position.
“Hopefully by the summer we can get back to something pretty close to what we have seen before the pandemic was normal.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson today said Brits might be able to enjoy summer holidays this year Credit: Jon Super
His comments come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson today said he was optimistic that Brits could enjoy summer holidays this year as long as the vaccine rollout continued.
He refused to make any promises but said he was hopeful people could go on a break.
He said it was too early to be lifting restrictions just yet – but there were signs the lockdown was starting to have an effect.
The PM was asked how optimistic he was that the UK can have a “happy and free summer” – when quizzed over the lockdown effect on Yorkshire’s tourism industry.
And he replied this lunchtime: “The last time I was on holiday in Yorkshire I had a fantastic time…
“I don’t want to give too much concrete by way of dates for our summer holidays. I am optimistic – I understand the reasons for being optimistic – but some things have got to go right for us.
“The vaccine programme has got to continue to be successful.
“We have got to make sure that we don’t get thrown off course by new variants, we have got to make sure that we continue to keep the disease under control and the level of infections come down.”
Mr Johnson has pinpointed February 22 as the date for when he would be outlining a new roadmap to help Brits get out of lockdown.
Vaccines are currently being rolled out to the most vulnerable as decided by the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation).
At the top of the list are the over 80s and healthcare workers who are exposed to the virus on a daily basis.
Dr Tildesley highlighted that it’s still “fairly early days” when it comes to the rollout and its effectiveness and added that more information on this would be available in the next month.
Scientists will follow people who have been vaccinated in order to see what their ability is to pass on the virus should they contract it.
Asked about how effective vaccines needed to be to block transmission he said it didn’t have to be as high as 100 per cent.
He said: “I think probably not quite close to 100 per cent but I think if we have somewhere in the region of say 70 to 80 per cent, then probably we’re in a good place.”
He said vaccines are not 100 per cent protective and some people would not have the vaccine.
“As we ease the controls you get more mixing, and even if a lot of the vulnerable population are protected then they have more risk, those that are not protected have more risk,” he said.
“So that’s why a gradual easing of restrictions, combined with uptake of vaccines, is really what’s needed.”
Other experts this week warned that even with vaccines reducing infections, the impact would not be seen for “some time to come”.
Dr Sam Moore, an epidemiological modeller at Warwick University led a study on lockdown measures and said relaxing them suddenly would lead to “substantial additional deaths” and that social distancing measures might be needed for longer.
On Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was hopeful of a “free great British summer”.
He said: “In six months we will be in the middle of, I hope, a happy and free great British summer.
“I have a high degree of confidence that by then the vast majority of adults will have been vaccinated.”