A spike in coronavirus infections in Europe that could take “several months” shows the UK needs to be “cautious” in releasing lockdown measures, an expert warned.
Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London (UCL) and member of Sage’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, told Times Radio it was “very worrying” that Europe is entering a “third wave”. of coronavirus cases with “comparatively low vaccination values”.
Speaking to the station on a personal level, he added, “As far as I know, much of this is the emergence of the UK strain, the B117 strain, which is more transmissible and is the same strain that it is now here.
“I think it just goes to show that the UK lockdown is necessary and we need to be careful in posting and monitoring the numbers as it shows the potential for cases to skyrocket.
“Obviously it has an impact on travel, I think, and what we’re going to do with it, because these waves of infection will typically last for several months before they return to low levels.
“But if there isn’t a lot of travel between countries, it shouldn’t have a direct impact on us.”
Professor Robin Shattock of Imperial College London said it was a “challenge” to give everyone’s second dose of Covid-19 within 12 weeks.
He told BBC Breakfast that the government must ensure that as many people as possible receive both doses of the vaccine so as not to “lose the advantage we are already gaining”.
He said, “We need to get people vaccinated as soon as possible and get the second doses within that 12 week period. This will be a challenge to vaccinate people who didn’t have their first dose. “
When asked about new variants, Prof. Shattock added: “We have to be careful that new variants may emerge and that the vaccine may exert selective pressure.
“It is reiterated that we cannot unlock too quickly. We need to make sure that as many people have both doses of the vaccine so we can access it and not lose the advantage we are already gaining.”
A professor who leads research on Covid-19 vaccines at Imperial College London said it was “difficult to say” how successful the vaccination program has been in reducing transmission.
Professor Robin Shattock told BBC Breakfast on Saturday that the sting could help reduce coronavirus hospital admissions and infection rates.
When asked how well the vaccine works at reducing transmission, he said, “I think it’s really difficult to say right now.
“We’re seeing a decrease in hospitalization and a decrease in transmission in some parts of the country, which is a good thing. The vaccine may help.
“But we’re seeing in other parts of the world that it’s going under in the US, for example, and they’re not that far ahead with their vaccination campaign, so we can’t be complacent.”