As cases fall for a fourth day in a row, Health Editor Emily Morgan on why some experts believe this winter may not be as tough as feared
Boris Johnson again ruled out a move to the government's back up plan and instead said Covid booster jabs will get the country through the winter months - despite urgent calls to bring in restrictions amid spiralling coronavirus cases.
However, it is understood modelling, reportedly seen by the government, shows cases could soon peak before starting to decline again within weeks, suggesting ministers will not need to resort to Plan B.
The government has been shown several unpublished scientific projections that show Covid cases could plummet to around 5,000 a day ahead of Christmas, according to the Daily Telegraph.
John Edmunds, a Sage member and professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the paper: “When we were doing the work about two weeks ago, the Health Secretary had made it very clear that the government was not planning to introduce Plan B in the near future.
“Our model was projecting that cases would start to decline some time in the autumn.
“However, the model also suggests that cases may start to climb again in the spring, due to a combination of waning immunity and increased contacts.”
The government's Plan B includes working from home guidance, the mandatory use of face masks and the use of vaccine passports at higher-risk venues and mass gatherings.
Mr Johnson and his ministers are instead focusing on ramping up the NHS booster vaccination programme, with a further two million to be invited to receive theirs this week.
But health leaders and other scientists have warned vaccinations alone are not be enough to bring current infection rates under control and urged the government to implement stricter measures.
Professor Peter Openshaw, of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) told BBC Radio 4's Today show: “What we’re facing at the moment is unacceptable, we’ve got roughly one in 55 people infected, which is an astonishingly high rate compared to most other west European countries.
“This is connected with the lack of clear messaging about sensible measures that we should all be taking in order to reduce the spread of infection.”
He and British Medical Association council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said vaccine passports along with other measures are the norm in other European countries.
Dr Nagpaul slammed the government as "wilfully negligent" to not take any further action to reduce the spread of the virus, after the health secretary admitted cases could reach 100,000 a day.
Downing Street has insisted there is still spare capacity in the NHS and that Plan B will only be activated if it comes under “significant pressure”.