Expert warns UK could face more lockdowns in winter
"It really depends on whether hospitals start to become overwhelmed at some point."
A top expert from Public Health England has not rules out the possibility of the UK needing to implement further lockdowns this winter.
Dr Susan Hopkins said that she hopes the current coronavirus wave "will not look the same as previous waves," and that the country needs to get to a point where "we live with this [the virus]". However, Hopkins pointed out that the crucial factor was whether hospitals ended up getting overwhelmed at any point.
Speaking to the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Dr Hopkins said: "I think that means we wouldn’t normally put people into lockdown for severe cases of influenza.
"We may have to do further lockdowns this winter, I can’t predict the future.
"It really depends on whether hospitals start to become overwhelmed at some point.
"But I think we will have alternative ways to manage this – through vaccination, through antivirals, through drugs, through testing – that we didn’t have last winter.
"All of those things allow us different approaches – rather than restrictions on lives and restrictions on livelihoods – that will move us forward into the next phase of learning to live with this as an endemic, which is something that happens with respiratory viruses."
Hopkins said that the country is "seeing the impact of vaccination" as cases slow down in Covid hotspots such as Bolton and Blackburn, but that areas of the North-east and London are still seeing cases rise "quite fast."
The expert also said that there may be "alternatives to isolation" for those that have received both doses of a vaccine, amid rumours that the government is considering getting rid of the 10 day isolation period for Brits that have been fully vaccinated.
Dr Hopkins said: "We will need to be alert and will need to consider how we can measure the response of these vaccines to new variants that come along.
"But we are moving steps forward, and I think that in a time in the future, I'm not sure when, I can imagine a situation where we will have alternatives to isolation for people who have two doses of the vaccine."