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‘NO MORE’ New lockdowns ‘unlikely’ Sage experts say after Covid cases fall and even Prof Lockdown now says we can live with virus

thesun– In the week to July 31, one in 75 people in England had the virus, which is down for the first time since mid-May.

The figure from the ONS – seen as the gold standard on infection levels – is down from one in 65 people the week before.

It comes after the most recent figures from the ZOE Covid Study app showed a significant downturn from the peak seen last month.

A spike in infections is expected once schools return in September and people head back to the workplace, but the vaccine rollout has fuelled belief from scientists that compulsory social distancing may be over.

LOCKDOWN HOPES

Professor Neil Ferguson – who has been nicknamed ‘Professor Lockdown – told The Times: “I think it’s unlikely we will need a new lockdown or even social distancing measures of the type we’ve had so far.”

He believed the virus 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”.

Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) experts also raised hopes further Covid curbs won’t be necessary.

Professor John Edmunds of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “I suspect we won’t have to [impose any more].

“The pinch point has always been pressure on the NHS and though it will be awkward for the NHS, so there will be pressure, I very much doubt they won’t be able to cope.”

The ONS survey captures people who do and do not have symptoms of the virus, which is different to the Government data which is only those diagnosed with a test – most likely because they had symptoms.

The data comes as a huge relief after scientists feared declining daily case numbers reported by the Government were a fluke.

ONS data, published every week, didn’t match up to the sudden drops in case numbers on the dashboard.

It left experts wondering if the change was due to fewer people getting tested for Covid, or because kids were no longer being swabbed in school.

‘OPTIMISTIC’

But now, the trends mirror the Government figures, suggesting cases really are falling.

One cabinet minister said: “We’re almost living with it now. We’re getting back to business as usual and thinking about life after this pandemic.”

A Whitehall source told The Times: “Privately, people are pretty optimistic but nobody wants to declare victory.

“Nobody wants a George Bush ‘mission accomplished’ moment.”

Sir John Bell, professor of medicine at Oxford University, who advises the government on vaccination and testing, said: “We’re past the period of a need for lockdowns because of the vaccine.

“In terms of severe disease and death, it’s pretty clear to me that vaccines are working really well.

“The immunity from these vaccines may even get better over time.”

 

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