Lockdowns are “unlikely” to be needed in the future, according to Neil Ferguson, one of the UK government’s top advisers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it is unlikely we will need a new lockdown or even social distancing measures of the type we’ve had so far,” Ferguson, an immunologist at Imperial College London, told The Times in an interview published on Saturday.
He cautioned, however, that if the coronavirus changed “substantially,” then this could turn out not to be the case.
Ferguson predicted that the coronavirus was “going to transition quite quickly in a few months to be more something we live with and manage through vaccination rather than crisis measures.”
This change in fortunes, he said, was down to the vaccine that had “dramatically changed the relationship between cases and hospitalisation.”
In the interview, he again struck a note of caution: “We’re at a stage where we’ve got a huge amount of immunity in the population, but the virus is more transmissible than it’s ever been so we have this complicated trade-off,” he said.
Ferguson was the one to convince the government of the necessity of the first lockdown in March 2020.
He told The Times that had British Prime Minister Boris Johnson locked down a week earlier, then “that first wave would have been very substantially reduced – halved in size at least, maybe even reduced by three quarters.”
He admitted, however, that hindsight was a “wonderful thing,” and that he understood why the government, and even other scientists, hesitated “about using quite uncertain modelling to make such a cataclysmic decision” like lockdown.
British government data released on Saturday showed that there were a further 28,612 cases across the UK over the past 24 hours. This brings the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to over 6 million. There were also 103 more deaths, bringing the total to 130,281.
Up to and including August 6, over 46.9 million Brits, 88.9%, have received their first doses of vaccine, and over 39.2 million Brits, 74.1%, their second doses.