Unlikely England will go into ‘full blown lockdown’ this winter, says Neil Ferguson

Epidemiologist ‘moderately optimistic’ as country yet to see back-to-school surge in Covid-19 infections

Chiara Giordano
Friday 24 September 2021 12:02
<p>It is unlikely England will need another ‘full blown lockdown’ this winter, according to epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson</p>

It is unlikely England will need another ‘full blown lockdown’ this winter, according to epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson

England is unlikely to need another “full blown lockdown” this winter, a leading scientific adviser to the government has said.

Professor Neil Ferguson, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), is “moderately optimistic” as England is yet to see a back-to-school surge in Covid infections.

It comes after the latest NHS Test and Trace figures recorded 162,000 coronavirus cases in the week up to last Wednesday – the lowest count since 30 June, before almost all social distancing restrictions were lifted.

However, deaths have increased by 15 per cent week-on-week and cases have risen in school-age children.

Professor Ferguson, dubbed “Professor Lockdown” for his work advising early in the pandemic, said: “We can’t rule out some need for additional measures, but I very much doubt we will need to go back into lockdown again.”

He added there could be a return to social distancing if there was a “significant uptick” in hospital admissions – but that a “full-blown lockdown” was unlikely.

“As long as we can roll out the booster programme and the vaccination of teenagers as promptly as possible, I’m moderately optimistic,” he said.

Professor Ferguson last week called for children to be vaccinated to boost the UK’s immunity levels and stem the risk of a large winter wave of coronavirus.

The epidemiologist said the UK’s immunity levels were falling behind other European counties, such as Spain, Italy and France – but that he “hoped” the country would not need another national lockdown.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve fallen behind a little bit. We were leading in Europe until recently and now several countries, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Ireland, have got higher vaccination levels than us and that is largely because they have rolled out vaccination of 12- to 15-year-olds faster.”

Government figures published on Thursday showed coronavirus cases had risen by 36,710 in one day, while a further 182 Covid-related deaths were recorded.

Public Health England said Covid vaccinations were estimated to have prevented 123,100 people from dying in England.

About 23.9 million infections have also been prevented by the vaccine rollout, along with 230,800 hospital admissions among people aged 45 and over.

According to the latest figures, more than 89 per cent of all people aged 16 and over in England have now received one dose of vaccine, while almost 82 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments