Europe

Coronavirus warning: UK won’t be back to normal until summer

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Yesterday the UK recorded a staggering 21,915 new cases of the novel virus with the death toll increasing by 326. Britain is now the ninth country to reach the milestone of more than a million confirmed cases.

And now, Professor Robin Shattock, of Imperial College London, has warned it will take until next summer at the earliest for things to return to normal in the UK.

He said: “I would anticipate with getting a vaccine out to vulnerable populations in the first half of next year, and with the potential gain over the summer that we saw this year – with incidences going down – that we’ll start to see life going back to normal in the summer of next year.”

Professor Shattock added vaccinating high-risk groups would be “game-changing” but “it wouldn’t mean everything went away”.

Scientists across the globe are desperately searching for a vaccine for the deadly virus.

Researchers at Oxford University have developed a potential vaccine alongside pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

But despite there being a breakthrough in vaccine research, Professor Shattock said it will not be rolled out to the general population straight away.

Earlier today, Sir Jeremy Farrar, chairman of the Wellcome Trust and Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member, said a breakthrough would “enhance trust and sense of confidence” in where the pandemic is going.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We will know before the end of the year from the early vaccines that are now in late-stage clinical trials.

“I believe that more than one of those vaccines will prove to be effective and safe.”

Sir Jeremy continued: “They may not be perfect, we’ve become used to perfect vaccines, but generally these first wave of vaccines are not perfect but they’re safe and they are effective and they will change the nature of the pandemic.

“They will, I believe, enhance trust and sense of confidence in where the pandemic is going.

“They will prevent, I hope, more people getting severely ill and they may also dent transmission itself, so they will have a big impact.”

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Professor Paul Elliot, director of the React programme, added some people may need booster vaccines.

He said: “It’s possible that people might need booster vaccines.

“For some viruses there’s lifelong immunity, for the coronaviruses that doesn’t seem to be the case and we know that the immunity can fluctuate so, yes, this is something that needs to be looked at very carefully.”

Today Britain’s health regulator, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulator Agency (MHRA), started an accelerated review of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

A spokesperson for the pharmaceutical company said: “We confirm the MHRA’s (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) rolling review of our potential COVID-19 vaccine.”

AstraZeneca/Oxford and Pfizer are the frontrunners in the race to develop a vaccine as the daily infection rates continue to soar.

Following the staggering new daily infections yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the UK will go into a second lockdown as of Thursday.

Meeting indoors or in private gardens will now be banned but individuals can meet one other person from another household outside in a public place.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail across the country will close but takeaways will remain open.

Entertainment venues including gyms will also close again.

MP Nadine Dorries tweeted: “Children under school age who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside.

“This will mean that a parent can see a friend or family member with their baby or young children.”

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