Covid hope as experts ‘optimistic’ third wave will not hit UK amid vaccine rollout success

Jonathan Van-Tam says vaccine rollout 'must be finished'

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The findings will be presented to ministers ahead of stage three of reopening England on May 17. The modelling will show the risk of a third wave of COVID-19 cases in the UK has fallen dramatically and could possibly not happen at all.

The previous set of projections, published by Sage on March 31, suggested a third wave of infections may possibly kill another 15,000 to 20,000 people in the late summer if stages three and four of the easing of restrictions were to happen.

The Government is expected to go ahead with step three of Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.

This will see a return to indoor household mixing as well as indoor hospitality in two weeks.

The modelling teams which provide the projections via the SPI-M subgroup of Sage said they are more hopeful that a third wave would not happen.

Professor Adam Kucharski from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who works on the modelling, told the Telegraph: “There was considerable uncertainty about the impact of vaccines on infection and transmission earlier this year, but recent studies are landing at the more optimistic end of the scale – at least for the dominant B.1.1.7 variant.

“We could still see some increase in transmission as things reopen, but the resulting impact could be relatively low if the vaccine programme stays on track and we don’t end up with variants that can partially evade immunity.”

Last week, new real-world data meant that Sage could improve its predictions on modelling both vaccine effectiveness and the rollout programme.

A PHD student published findings last week that showed that for the first time vaccines cut “breakthrough transmission” of COVID-19 by about half after one dose.

On Saturday, official figures showed that the UK recorded 1,907 new COVID-19 cases and a further seven deaths in the latest 24-hour period.

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More than 34 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Nearly 15 million people have had both jab doses.

However, scientists have urged Britons to be “patient for a short period” before restrictions are eased again in May.

Professor Sir Mark Walport, a Government scientific adviser, told the BBC that there was “very good news” in terms of the progress of the pandemic but warned that many Britons are not vaccinated yet.

He said there is still the “potential for that spark to reignite” and cause COVID-19 cases to rise.

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