A scientist who is working on a coronavirus vaccine has warned the UK won’t return to ‘normal’ until at least summer 2021.
When the coronavirus outbreak first caused global lockdowns earlier this year, everyone hoped things would be better by this summer. Some naïvely wondered whether they’d need to grab their laptop chargers from the office before working from home, while others barreled ahead with birthday plans for the summer and autumn months.
Eight months later and most of us are now used to social distancing, wearing face masks and staying inside as much as possible, though the longing for ‘normality’ remains. However, Professor Robin Shattock, who is leading one of two British efforts to develop a vaccine for the virus, says we’ve still got a bit of a wait ahead of us.
Shattock is working on the treatment at Imperial College London and expressed hopes that a vaccine would start being used early next year.
Speaking to The Independent, he said:
I would anticipate with getting a vaccine out to vulnerable populations in the first half of next year, and with the potential gain over the Summer that we saw this year – with incidences going down – that we’ll start to see life going back to normal in the Summer of next year.
The professor outlined ‘first steps’ for breaking out of the pandemic, explaining a return to normality would be dependent on vaccinating at-risk groups within the population, including healthcare workers and the elderly.
Shattock said the vaccination of these key groups would be a ‘very large logistical undertaking’, but one that he described as ‘game changing’.
It wouldn’t mean everything went away, but it would give the opportunity to start coming out of this situation.
In spite of his predictions, Shattock admitted that trying to guess the future in a coronavirus-filled world was a bit like ‘looking into a crystal ball’.
The professor spoke ahead of the news of the upcoming second national lockdown, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday, October 31.
As he addressed the nation, Johnson shared Shattock’s hope that a vaccine would be ready to go ‘in the first quarter of next year’, though he suggested there may be a quicker knock-on effect which would make way for a ‘very different and better’ spring.
There are currently eleven coronavirus vaccines in the final stages of large-scale community testing. Shattock believes data from these trials will be available within the next two months, at which point it will be presented to regulators for approval.
The professor expects the first treatments to be made available after Christmas, while his own vaccine could be available by mid-2021.
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Topics: News, Boris Johnson, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Now, vaccine