‘Jabs coverage and earlier Delta spread could see UK escape Europe surge’


cientists are hopeful that the booster jabs rollout and immunity from the summertime spread of the more transmissible Delta coronavirus variant should help the UK escape the surge in infections seen in parts of Europe

There have been protests in a number of countries including Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, Italy and the Netherlands at new restrictions in response to sharp rises in cases.

But the UK, which saw pandemic measures eased in the summer, is “already ahead” of such a spike, one expert said.

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, one of those behind the creation of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said it is “unlikely” the UK will see a rise similar to parts of Europe.

He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “We’ve actually had some spread (of the virus) going on since the summer, and so I think it’s unlikely that we’re going to see the very sharp rise in the next few months that’s just been seen.  We’re already ahead of that with this particular virus, the Delta variant.”

Professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, Linda Bauld, said while the picture remains “uncertain”, there are a number of factors which could help the UK avoid the situation seen in other countries.

She told Sky’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: “We dealt with our Delta wave in the summer and early autumn. We’re still in it of course but not those big rises.

(Some European countries) are certainly seeing waning now and they’ve also got in some parts of the population some pockets of hesitancy which are causing real concern

“And then the other features are around, unfortunately, because we’ve had high infections in the past, we’ve probably a bit more natural immunity in the population – as in immunity post-infection, particularly for younger groups who’ve not been eligible for vaccines.”

The vaccine rollouts are also slightly different in that the dosing gap between first and second doses in many of the European countries was smaller than in the UK, she said.

“So they’re certainly seeing waning now and they’ve also got, in some parts of the population, some pockets of hesitancy, which are causing real concern, so we may not be the same, but you know, it’s very uncertain.”

But she added there is an element of “grave concern actually in trying to determine whether there are differences in the situation in Europe, or whether it’s just a matter of time until this faces us here”.

Sir Andrew said reaching the point where the virus no longer spreads is “not going to be a thing”, saying the Covid-19 will be around “for decades”, but he added that vaccines are successfully slowing it down.

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