UK should be 'more or less free' of coronavirus by Christmas, predicts SAGE expert
11 February 2021, 10:06
Professor John Edmunds added that we should be 'very cautious' about international travel.
A leading epidemiologist has predicted that the UK should be 'more or less free' of the coronavirus crisis by Christmas this year.
Professor John Edmunds, who is a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), added to ITV that some measures are likely to remain 'probably forever'.
Speaking to ITV, he said: "I think we will be more or less free of this by the end of this year... say Christmas."
He also warned against relaxing lockdown restrictions before Christmas, and said we should be 'very cautious' about foreign travel.
"I think we do have to keep our borders pretty tight at the moment - nobody likes this.
"But we've identified these significant new variants that are out there and we need to be able to arm ourselves against them and we don't have new vaccines that could potentially arm ourselves against these new variants yet.
"I know that companies are working very hard on developing new vaccines in order to protect against these potential new variants that might affect us so I do think we need to be very cautious at the moment about travel abroad."
Professor Edmunds also discussed the potential reopening of schools, saying it would be 'touch and go' whether the R number would go above one if they opened on 8 March.
He said: "We're not absolutely certain, it looks as if it would be touch and go.
"If we opened up schools I think that the reproduction number would get close to one and possibly exceed one.
"If we opened them up completely, if we opened secondary schools and primary schools both at the same time, I suspect we'd be lucky to keep the reproduction number below one...
"I think we have to do everything very gradually and see how it goes."