UK ‘back to normal by summer’ once all over-50s vaccinated says top SAGE expert

Britain could go "more or less back to normal" by the summer, a top scientist advising the government says.

Sage member, Professor Andrew Hayward believes once everyone over 50 and those with chronic illnesses have had their coronavirus jabs, there would be a "significant" return to normality.

No date has been set by Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi as to when everyone over 50 in the UK would be vaccinated as it depends on drug supplies.

But noting that 600,000 vaccinations can be delivered daily, Mr Zahawi said: "You can do the maths."

Professor Andrew Hayward told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme: "Once the most vulnerable people, particularly those over 50 and those with chronic illnesses, are vaccinated then yes I think we can see a significant return to normality.

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"That in addition to the fact coronavirus is a seasonal disease, I think will make a big difference and allow us to open up.

"I think what we'll see is a phased opening up as the vaccination levels increase, and then we will be more or less back to normal for the summer, I would imagine."

The vaccines minister declined to give a date for when the first nine groups in the priority list will have received their vaccine, but said people could "do the maths".

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Nadhim Zahawi said: "We will set out our target (for vaccinating groups 5-9) after we have hit our February 15 target.

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"But you can do the maths. We did 600,000 in a single day – the deployment infrastructure that we've built can do as much vaccines as we get supply, so the limiting factor will be vaccine supply.

"You can see that in the next ten or so days, we've got to do another almost touching five million and so if we keep that rate up we will very quickly go down the list of the top nine."

Pressed on whether that meant it would take another 35 days from February 15 to have jabbed all 31 million people in the first nine cohorts, Mr Zahawi replied: "That assumes the supply, so I don't want to commit to a date without going through it with a very fine toothcomb with the whole team, because our limiting factor is the supply of vaccines ultimately.

"With any manufacturing process, especially one that is new, there are challenges around that, as we've seen in Europe and as we saw in the early days in the UK as well."

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