The UK is well on track to avoid a third wave of coronavirus infections and deaths, thanks to being “front of the queue” for its vaccine supplies, an expert has claimed.
Professor Hugh Pennington says the rising number of infections and deaths currently being experienced across Europe should not be emulated here in the coming weeks.
He argues the “better than expected” vaccine results and “better than hoped” number of those taking up their offer of the jab have put the country on a better footing to ensure infection rates remain low.
The Aberdeen University microbiologist said: “All the statistics are still going in the right direction.
“The number of people in hospital has gone down and the vaccine is protecting people from serious illness.
“There is evidence mounting that it stops the virus spreading as well and, of course, the uptake has been amazing.
“Against all expectations it’s full marks to those doing the roll out and full marks to those taking it.
“It’s gone better than even the optimists predicted.
“We got our orders in for the vaccines in early and it’s like anything, if you are late getting your orders in you’re back of the queue.”
And it’s that advantage the UK has over other European countries, such as France and Poland which are suffering fresh lockdowns and pressure on hospitals respectively, which gives Mr Pennington a hopeful outlook.
Grounds for optimism
“The aim is that we get the case figures so low that even if we have an outbreak with the virus being imported, we can manage to track those cases and sort it out before it spreads to the community at large,” he said.
“So as well as continuing the vaccine roll-out we need to be absolutely certain we are doing proper border control.
“We can’t stop the virus coming in but we can minimise the number of infected people coming in whose presence could lead to local outbreaks.”
Giving the example of Aberdeen’s oil sector, he added that “we have got to keep that enforced quarantine up until Europe gets a grip on its virus to the degree that we have”.
“Until the European countries get their levels down, the virus being imported is a big risk to us, and we have to be extremely cautious,” he added.
“It would be a shame to throw away all the good work amid lockdown misery, have an easing and then go back to square one.
“We will see outbreaks, but I don’t think we should have a third wave.”
He added that the north and north-east remain in a “favourable” position in terms of case numbers country-wide.