erd immunity to Covid-19 in Britain through vaccinations is unlikely to be achieved before next summer, a Government scientific advisor has warned.
Professor Calum Semple, a respiratory disease expert and member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said that it would require “probably 70 to 80 per cent of the population to be vaccinated” to achieve widespread protection.
The jab is expected to be approved for UK use within days, as the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is approaches the first wave peak.
Follow the latest updates below
‘Wall to wall’ hospitals
The president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has warned hospitals were “wall to wall” with Covid-19 patients on Christmas Day.
Dr Katherine Henderson told BBC Breakfast: “We see patients who are coming in who have Covid symptoms and then we have other people coming in with other symptoms who turn out to be Covid positive.
“Between that, there’s a great deal of difficulty getting those patients through into the wards.”
Professor Jackie Taylor, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, said London and the south-east are now experiencing what Scotland went through in the autumn.
“Our busiest time in the second wave was in October and November, so the pressure that London and the South East is currently under we’ve already endured in October and November.
“We are still seeing significant amounts of patients with Covid and large amounts of standard respiratory infections and other emergency that we see at this time of year that mount up to a standard winter pressure.”
‘Cost’ for Christmas mixing
The President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow has said there will be a “cost” for allowing household mixing in Scotland on Christmas Day.
Prof Jackie Taylor said: “When there is increased mixing we know there is likely to be increased transmission, (Scotland’s) levels have never fallen to the kind of levels that we would have wished, so we are starting from a higher base.
“In addition, the new variant strain we are seeing does appear to be significantly more transmissible and that does give us great cause for concern, when we add that to the usual winter pressures we are really very anxious for the potential of a further huge surge of cases.”
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she did not condemn the Scottish Government’s decision to relax the rules for a day.
“We have to remember our humanity and how important it is for some people to have had the ability to be with family even for a short time.
“I think it is absolutely right that the restrictions were only flexed for that day but, inevitably, there will be a cost for this.”
She urged everyone to avoid household mixing over new year and remember all the rules of handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing over the Christmas period.
Gove: Still plans for staggered schools reopening
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said the Government hopes the staggered reopening of schools in England will go ahead in January as planned.
“We always keep things under review but teachers and head teachers have been working incredibly hard over the Christmas period since schools broke up in order to prepare for a new testing regime – community testing – in order to make sure that children and all of us are safer,” he told Sky News.
“We do keep things under review but that is the plan.”
Good morning and welcome the Evening Standard’s UK coronavirus live blog for Monday, December 28