'Unlikely' UK will see surge in Covid infections like in Europe, top vaccine scientist says

It is “unlikely” that the UK will see a surge in Covid cases like that currently happening across parts of Europe, a top vaccine scientist has said.

Consumers are being encouraged to “order that turkey” and prepare for family gatherings ahead of the festive season, as other nations are experiencing another wave of infections.

There have been protests in a number of countries on the continent including Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands as new restrictions have been introduced to try and curb an increase in cases.

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Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, one of those behind the creation of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said it is “unlikely” the picture will be replicated in the UK.

Undated BBC handout photo of Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr show.

“If we look at what’s happening in other countries at the moment, they’re just experiencing the start of another wave of spread of infection," he told The Andrew Marr Show.

He added: 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.”

Prof Pollard’s sentiments were seemingly echoed by Sir John Bell, who serves on the Vaccine Task Force, who warned that things are not looking as positive on the continent.

“My advice is, order that turkey, because it'll all be fine. And if you're planning a skiing holiday in Austria, things may not go so well,” he told Times Radio.

He went on: “In many ways the pattern of our disease doesn't match the pattern of the European disease.

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“You'll remember way back in the dark days of March, April, May 2020, everybody said, oh gosh, aren't the Germans clever, they haven't got any Covid and aren't the Brits dumb because they've got lots of it.

“Actually I don't think it has quite played out that way. One of the interesting things is that it may well be that the delay in lockdown in the UK, the pretty extensive level of disease in the UK, has actually given us longer term protection.”

Their optimism is despite cases rising slightly again in the UK in recent days, with almost 41,000 new infections added to the national tally on Saturday, up from 30,693 two weeks previously.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it is the vaccine programme, rather than immunity from infection, that means the British people are more protected from the Covid-19 winter wave than other European countries.

He told Times Radio: “I do think the reason we have such a high level of protection is primarily down to our vaccination programme, with almost some 88% of people having had at least one jab, 80% double jabbed.

“If you look at some of those countries in Europe now that have seen the biggest surges, they have a much lower overall vaccination rate.”