Covid-19 could ruin Christmas for the next five years, a leading scientist has warned.
Professor Tim Spector has said the current vaccine and testing measures are not sufficient enough to keep the spread of the virus under control.
Current measures are ‘insufficient’
The lead scientist on the Zoe Covid Study app explained that experts now have a better understanding of coronavirus than they did in 2020, when they thought they just had to get through the year.
He said: “And that’s clearly turning out not to be the case, as we realise that just vaccines alone, even in countries that have got higher vaccination rates than ours, are not the final solution to this. But we need a combination of measures.
“We need to extend the vaccination programme to include three shots.
“We also need to realise there will be breakthrough infections that are real, we now know that vaccinated people can still transmit the virus, and that is going to be running through our populations to some degree.
“How high we want those rates to be is highly determined by our complacency and our relaxation of some of the rules that we had in place, that last year I thought we’re actually over the top, and now this year, I think insufficient.”
Prof Spector explained that while vaccinations have helped to bring infections down, vaccines alone are not enough to stop the virus from spreading and a combination of measures is needed.
This includes extending the jab rollout to include three doses and using a combination of lateral flow and antibody tests to identify who is at risk of having breakthrough infections.
Speaking at an online conference for the Royal Society of Medicine’s Covid-19 series, he explained: “We have to realise we just have to in some way control (it) into something that doesn’t cause as much loss of life, doesn’t cause morbidities, and reduce that.
"And to do that is a combination of the vaccines, the medicines, etc. But also we have to keep some public health measures in place to keep those numbers down - we’re not doing that.
"And that’s why for the last three months, we’ve had the highest rates not only of cases but also hospitalisations in western Europe.
"And I think it’s pretty unwise for a country that has such a perilous health system - even at this stage about 7% of hospital beds full of Covid - at a time when we’ve got massive other health needs.”
PM says boosters are ‘key thing’
Prof Spector’s comments come as the Prime Minister resisted calls to implement tougher winter restrictions, refusing to move to the ‘Plan B’ for tackling Covid-19.
Boris Johnson is instead relying on booster vaccinations as the “key thing” to keep infection levels under control over the coming months.
Speaking during a hospital visit in Northumberland this week, he said: “The key thing you want to do is to reduce those pressures, which are building, on the A&Es, on beds, by encouraging people, particularly the over-50s, to come forward and get your booster jab.”
“Unfortunately, what you’ve got at the moment is a situation in which the waning of the original two jabs is starting to see too many elderly people getting into hospital.
“Sadly, the jabs do wane. We’ve done 10 million booster jabs already and it’s a very effective thing.”
The NHS is now allowing those eligible for booster jabs to book their vaccine five months after their second dose - one month earlier than previously - meaning people can now get their jab at the six-month mark, rather than having to wait weeks for an appointment.
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