asks and social distancing rules could stay in place for several years until the world returns to normality, a leading epidemiologist has said.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Public Health England’s head of immunisation, said some Covid-19 measures could remain mandatory until other nations successfully roll out their vaccine programme.
Speaking to Andrew Marr on Sunday, Dr Ramsay said: “People have got used to those lower level restrictions now, and people can live with them, and the economy can still go on with those less severe restrictions in place.
“So I think certainly for a few years, at least until other parts of the world are as well vaccinated as we are, and the numbers have come down everywhere, that is when we may be able to go very gradually back to a more normal situation.”
Last month a group of government scientific advisers warned that “maintaining a baseline of policies which reduce transmission” will be necessary for the future.
Dr Ramsay’s comments come as Matt Hancock revealed half of all adults had now received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine in the UK.
The success of the vaccine rollout had buoyed hopes that non-essential overseas travel could restart again on May 17.
But this date is looking increasingly unlikely amid a surge in coronavirus cases across Europe.
Under the government’s roadmap, the the UK is set to return to normality, with no coronavirus measures in place, from June 21.
However Dr Ramsay urged caution and said “we have to look very carefully before any of these restrictions are lifted”.
“I think our number one consideration is that even though the United Kingdom is almost leading the world on vaccination rates… it’s really important that we don’t import new variants and undermine all that hard work,” he added.