Covid: UK at 'significant risk' of third wave this summer, top scientist warns

Professor John Edmunds said vaccines will start to show an effect. Credit: Peston on ITV

The UK is at “significant risk” of a third wave this summer as restrictions begin to ease, an expert advising the government has warned.

Professor of epidemiology John Edmunds, who is a member of the government’s scientific advisory group, Sage, has said cases are “inevitable” with half of the population unvaccinated.

“We are lifting the brakes a little earlier… if you kept brakes on until we are all vaccinated that would be the safest way to do it,” he told ITV’s Peston show, while adding it will take a very long time to fully vaccinate everyone.

“If we ease restrictions, then cases will occur. It's sort of inevitable really, they will occur in the younger half of the population and that will expose the older half.”

He did however add that vaccines will “take the strain” and believes a rise in cases does not necessarily mean another lockdown will be necessary.

“I think we can manage without (another lockdown), at some point the vaccine really will take the strain and that's still a few months off but it will rake the strain,” he said.

“So, I think the prime minister is right in saying the main effect now is lockdown.” Restrictions are being eased across the UK, with new steps taken to reopen in all home nations.

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On Monday, shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens were allowed to reopen in England.

Lockdown is expected to ease on April 26 in Scotland while close-contact services like hairdressers were reopened in Wales on Monday.

Asked if he thinks the population will be required to wear masks and adhere to other measures, he said: “I think many will happen anyway.

“I think people will wear masks whether mandated or not, handwashing, and test and trace will stay in place.”

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