The UK’s third wave of the coronavirus pandemic is disappearing due to the lockdown efforts and as a result, the country may be at or close to the bottom of the deadly disease levels, according to senior medical expert and government adviser Professor Jonathan Van-Tam.
Van-Tam, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, administered a COVID-19 vaccine dose to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock at a vaccination centre set up at the Science Museum in London on Thursday.
Hancock, 42, declared the jab “didn’t hurt at all” after he had told a Downing Street briefing on Wednesday evening that he had booked his vaccine now that the National Health Service (NHS) has expanded the programme to all over-42s.
“We are really in very low levels that are comparable to where we were in September last year. We are running as a typical seven-day average at just over 2,000 people testing positive per day,” said Van-Tam, when he joined Hancock for that Downing Street briefing on Wednesday.
“My sense is that probably we are at or close to the bottom at the moment in terms of this level of disease in the UK. Most of the steady decline we have seen, the disappearance of our third wave, has been down to the efforts of the British people in following lockdown,” he said.
The medic said the modelling suggested there will be a third wave in the UK but it “may be just a third upsurge and much less significant” if the vaccination programme carries on at pace and continues to be successful.
Van-Tam, however, warned of “twists and turns ahead” and said he anticipated “some degree of bumpiness” along the road to recovery, probably in the autumn and winter months later in the year.
According to government data, the UK has recorded another 29 coronavirus-related deaths and 2,166 new cases in the previous 24-hour period.
Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest that almost 70 per cent of the adult population in England now have COVID antibodies.
It comes as the UK announced a new booster shot programme for COVID vaccines to kick in from the autumn, for which an additional 60 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines have been ordered. “The situation in India is a stark reminder that this isn’t over yet. It shows how important it is that we’re vigilant here at home,” said Hancock, as he made the announcement of the booster programme on Wednesday.