THE UK shouldn’t be hit with a third Covid wave thanks to vaccines and the sunshine, an expert has said.
The two elements combined put Britain in good stead to stave off any potential spikes in cases.
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Large parts of Europe are seeing a new wave of coronavirus cases after the new UK variant seeded itself there.
While the Prime Minister and his scientific advisers have warned it could soon cross over the channel, a leading public health expert does not think this is the case.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, told Times Radio: “I think we are in a very different position for two main reasons.
“The first one is that they are dealing with the B117 (Kent variant) which unfortunately we exported to them and caused us huge challenges – still does – but much more in the winter.”
The third lockdown has done wonders to suppress the Kent variant, which first emerged in September and spread rapidly over the winter months.
Scientists say winter is the perfect condition for a bug like Covid to spread because people spend more time cooped up indoors with other people.
The risk is far less when outdoors, because there is more ventilation.
Now, cases have come down to roughly 5,200 per day.
And as the nation moves out of lockdown, the sunshine and hot weather should partially help to keep case numbers down because it helps kill germs on surfaces.
Last summer cases remained down for months while people enjoyed more freedoms, before spiking with schools and universities opened.
But Prof Bauld said even more reasons to believe the UK is protected from a third wave is due to its successful jab programme.
She said: “More importantly, 11.6 per cent of citizens in the EU on average have been given their first dose of the vaccine – that’s all people, not just all adults – compared to over 40 per cent of people in the UK, so you can see they are in a different place than we are.”
Prof Bauld’s optimism comes after the Prime Minister said there were still “unanswered questions” about whether vaccines had been effective enough to “blunt” another wave of Covid.
“That’s a question we still don’t really know the answer to”, he said at the Conservatives’ virtual spring forum last Saturday.
EU IS “WORRYING”
The EU’s vaccine programme has been so shambolic even the World Health Organization yesterday called it “unacceptably slow”.
Leaders did not procure as many doses in advance as the UK, and has been dealing with delays in supplies from AstraZeneca.
Pfizer also revealed it was having manufacturing and delivering difficulties early in the year.
It’s led to a war with the UK which is steaming ahead with its rollout, with leaders threatening to block exports of jabs from the region.
But French president Emmanuel Macron blamed “more contagious and deadlier” variants for rising cases in the nation.
As well as the Kent variant, the South African strain is also thought to be fuelling cases.
Macron finally imposed a four week lockdown starting this weekend to cope with daily case rates of up to 54,000 amid concerns he is not taking the advice of scientists seriously.
The WHO director for Europe Hans Kluge said in a statement that the situation in Europe was “more worrying than we have seen in several months”.
Boris Johnson warned the situation could “wash up on our shores as well” – as had been the case previously.
Cases are the lowest they have been since mid-September and the vaccine rollout has reached half the adult population.
But Mr Johnson said last week it was still not clear how “robust” the defences provided by the Covid vaccination programme would prove if such a rise in infections hits the UK.
His comments came after modelling has previously suggested that even with vaccines, the UK is set for another wave because a significant number of people would be unvaccinated, either because they are young, have a medical reason or refused it.
Mr Johnson said: “What we don’t know is exactly how strong our fortifications now are, how robust our defences are against another wave.
“We have seen what is happening with our European friends. Historically, at least there has been a time lag and then we have had a wave ourselves.
“That’s why I stress the importance of everybody maintaining the discipline people have shown for so long.”
The PM urged people not to meet indoors or stay overnight as temperatures plummet over the Easter weekend.
Experts also warned this week that if people in England took too many liberties, it risked going back into a full-scale lockdown.