Scientists have said the UK is experiencing a third wave of Covid-19 – but it is “more of a bump” and the current data is “encouraging”.
Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises the government, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the current data looked encouraging.
“The overall picture of all surveillance streams at this point is encouraging,” he said.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of cases across the country, as expected, but they have slowed slightly from a few weeks ago and we are seeing an increase in hospital admissions and even deaths, but again they are at much lower levels in the country Compared to previous cases, which shows the high effectiveness of vaccines in protecting people, especially from serious diseases. “
Prof. Ferguson said the data is permeating all the time, but “it is clear” that two doses of vaccine provide a high level of protection and that even those who do become infected are “almost certainly likely to be 50% less contagious”.
The expert said the virus is currently focused on unvaccinated groups, including children, “and although it is very disruptive for schools and students to be absent from school for a while, we see these measures prove to be relatively effective. “Stop very large explosive school breakouts under these circumstances.
“Unfortunately, this picture will continue for a few more weeks until we have the third wave behind us, which will unfold in the next few months.”
Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London and a member of Sage said he had no personal preference for a date when all restrictions should end.
Over the coming winter, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “Certainly seasonal influenza will be a significant problem in the fall and winter, as all the measures we have taken against Covid around the world have brought the flu to a very low level and as you say, in the last year basically nobody got the flu and so the immunity has dropped a bit.
“We can counter that with seasonal flu shots that will be introduced in the fall, but I think we need to prepare for a potentially quite significant flu epidemic that is likely to happen later this year, early next year.”
Meanwhile, Brendan Wren, professor of vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the nation is in a third wave, but “it’s more of a bump”.
He told Sky News, “We’re in a third wave, but it’s not that bad, it’s more of a bump than a huge rise. We have a different population than we did in the first or second wave, so we shouldn’t be so anxious.
“My concern is the psychological damage it does to many people hearing these frightening variations of being afraid to go outside. And I think we need a positive message now and a simple message that if we open up earlier, there will be less confusion about what to do. “
But it is likely that there will be more variants, he said, “we will be up to an omega variant, it’s just nature that takes its course”.
He said that attenuations like masks and distancing should be voluntary, adding, “I’m a little skeptical about masks – they don’t act as a physical barrier to the tiny, tiny virus particles.
“And when people handle masks, I would ask them not to reuse them if possible and to disinfect their hands after using them as many people overuse them and their hands may transmit the virus. Personally, I consider masks to be of dubious value. “
Professor Wren also said the government was “a little overcautious” and suggested that all Covid restrictions could be lifted before July 19.