BRITAIN’S third Covid wave will last through the summer and into the autumn with daily infections rising to 100,000 in weeks, a SAGE adviser has warned.
Professor John Edmunds, a member of the SAGE board which advises the government, said the summer wave was likely to be “long and drawn out” after restrictions are eased on Monday.
Britain is preparing for cases to surge further this summer (File picture)Credit: Reuters
His comments come as the Government prepares to lift all legal Covid restrictions on ‘Freedom Day’ in just two days time, with social distancing measures scrapped, large-scale events back on and work-from-home guidance shelved.
However, concern over the spread of the Delta variant is mounting with Britain yesterday recording 51,870 cases – the highest daily infection tally since January 15.
Prof Edmunds, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warned the spread was unlikely to cease as measures are lifted.
He told BBC Radio 4: “My hunch is that we are looking at a high level of incidence for a protracted period right through the summer and probably through much of the autumn.
“We started easing restrictions before everybody was vaccinated.
“That is going to lead to infections in the unvaccinated people – primarily in this instance the younger individuals. It is inevitable that that was going to happen.”
It comes as…
Prof Edmunds warned cases could reach 100,000 a day within weeks, echoing Health secretary Sajid Javid’s prediction in the House of Commons a fortnight ago.
He added: “We are at about 50,000 a day now. The epidemic has been doubling roughly every two weeks and so if we allow things as they are for another couple of weeks you could expect it to get to 100,000 cases a day.”
Ministers have tempered their ‘Freedom Day’ promises as cases continue to surge, with Boris Johnson last week warning the pandemic was “not over”.
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The PM said the lifting of restrictions was not an excuse for Brits to “have a great jubilee” – but stressed it was time for us to “learn to live with the virus”.
Earlier this week, officials unveiled fresh guidance including the recommendation of face masks in crowded areas such as public transport or shops, whilst also encouraging hospitality venues to ask for Covid vaccine passports upon entry.
Meanwhile, the UK’s vaccination programme has slowed in the past week, raising concern that younger people are not coming forward to get their jab.
A total of 61,681 Brits received their first dose of the jab on Thursday – but this is way below the 152,525 shots doled out a fortnight before on July 1.
However, second doses are continuing at a rapid pace with 201,893 given out on Thursday. Over 35 million Brits are now double-jabbed.
Officials have repeatedly stressed the importance of vaccination even in younger patients who are not as high-risk.
Hospitalisations have also seen a slight uptick with 717 recorded yesterday – the highest figure since March 2.
But fatalities have remained low relative to infection rates with the vaccine acting as a buffer against hospitalisation and severe illness.
The last time the UK recorded 55,553 cases on January 15, there were 1,282 deaths reported. Yesterday the tally was 49.
It comes as the Government prepares for a large-scale vaccination drive in the Autumn to combat surging flu cases as well as a predicted spike in Covid infections.
More than 35 million Brits will be offered a flu jab from September in a significant expansion of the programme.
Jabs will be available from September for children aged two and three on August 31, all primary school children, people aged 50 and over, pregnant women, unpaid carers, and frontline health and adult social care staff.
Experts have warned that the UK has low levels of immunity from flu as a result of lockdown and social distancing measures.
A gloomy report from the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) this week warned of a “triple whammy” of Covid, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – which people have typically caught by the age of two.
Elsewhere the R rate – the rate of infection – rose to as high as 1.6 in some areas of England, it emerged yesterday.
One in 95 people in England had the virus in the week to July 10, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is up from one in 160 reported the previous week.
Ministers have also come under fire for instigating a “pingdemic” as it was revealed yesterday that over half a million Brits had been told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 App.
Furious employers have demanded that the Government tweak the app amid severe staff shortages – though a surge in cases means changes may not be made until next month.