A top scientific adviser to the UK Government has said lockdowns are “unlikely” to be needed again to control the Covid pandemic.
The claim comes as the number of people in hospital with the virus has fallen, and the average rate of infection has decreased.
The number of Covid infections is expected to rise again in September, when school and university terms begin and more workers are expected to return to the office.
But immunologist Professor Neil Ferguson, among the UK Government’s most prominent scientific advisers on Covid, has predicted it is unlikely a lockdown will be needed again to control the virus.
In an interview with the Times, he said: “I think it is unlikely we will need a new lockdown or even social distancing measures of the type we’ve had so far.”
The Imperial College professor also told the newspaper that lockdowns could not be ruled out, as the “caveat” which might change the situation is if the “virus changes substantially”.
But Prof Ferguson added Covid was “going to transition quite quickly in a few months to be more something we live with and manage through vaccination rather than crisis measures”.
He said the vaccine had “dramatically changed the relationship between cases and hospitalisation”.
Prof Ferguson also said the Euro 2020 football championship had created an “artificially inflated level of contact”, leading to his predictions in July that the UK would hit 100,000 Covid cases a day following phase four of unlocking.
After the tournament ended cases decreased, and Prof Ferguson said the pingdemic also had a “reasonable effect” on making it harder for the virus to spread.
On Friday, the first coronavirus jabs were offered to healthy 16 and 17-year-olds in the UK.
In Scotland, those in this age category can register their interest on the online portal and will then be sent an appointment by text or email, while those in Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles will be contacted by their health board.